Eight dead children and a woman suffering from stab wounds were found inside a home in a northern Australian city on Friday, police said.
Queensland state police said they were called to the home in the Cairns suburb of Manoora on Friday morning after receiving a report of a woman with serious injuries.
When police got to the house, they found the bodies of the children inside. The victims range in age from 18 months to 15 years.
The news out of Cairns is heartbreaking
A 34-year-old woman found inside the home was suffering from stab wounds to the chest, a Queensland Ambulance Service spokesman said.
The woman was receiving treatment for her wounds and was in stable condition at a hospital, Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar said. He said he had no further information, including how the children were killed.
“As it stands at the moment, there’s no need for the public to be concerned about this other than the fact that it’s a tragic, tragic event,” Asnicar said. “The situation is well controlled at the moment. There shouldn’t be any concern for anyone else out of this environment.”
Detectives were speaking with neighbours and police had not determined the relationship between all of the children and the hospitalized woman.
But Lisa Thaiday, who said she was the woman’s cousin, said the children were all siblings and that the woman was their mother. Thaiday said another sibling, a 20-year-old man, came home and found his brothers and sisters dead inside the house.
“I’m going to see him now, he needs comforting,” Thaiday said. “We’re a big family … I just can’t believe it. We just found out [about] those poor babies.”
The woman allegedly stabbed the children and then herself in a suicide attempt, the Brisbane Times reported, citing an unidentified police source.
The street has been cordoned off and a crime scene will remain in place for at least the next day, Asnicar said.
Dozens of police have swarmed the home.
“These events are extremely distressing for everyone of course and police officers aren’t immune from that — we’re human beings as well,” Ascinar said.
The tragedy comes as Australia is still reeling from the shock of a deadly siege in a Sydney cafe earlier this week. On Monday, a gunman burst into a cafe in the heart of the city and took 18 people inside hostage. Two hostages were killed along with the gunman after police stormed in 16 hours later in a bid to end the siege.
“The news out of Cairns is heartbreaking,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a statement. “All parents would feel a gut-wrenching sadness at what has happened. This is an unspeakable crime. These are trying days for our country.”