, SYDNEY, Australia, Dec 19 – Eight children aged between 18 months and 15 years have been found dead at a home in the Australian city of Cairns, police said Friday, reportedly after a gruesome mass stabbing.
“Cairns detectives have established a crime scene and begun an investigation into the death of eight children this morning,” police said.
“During an examination of the residence police located the bodies of the children, all aged between 18 months and 15 years.”
A woman, 34, was injured in the incident in the suburb of Manoora, 10 minutes from the city centre. She is in a stable condition in hospital and assisting detectives with their inquiries, police said.
Cairns is a tropical city with a population of more than 150,000 people and is popular with international tourists as a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, one of Australia’s biggest tourist sites.
The Australian Associated Press cited the injured woman’s cousin, Lisa Thaiday, as saying the children were all siblings and the woman was their mother. READ: Australia mourns after tragic end to cafe siege.
It said another sibling, a 20-year-old man, arrived home to find his brothers and sisters dead inside the house.
“I just can’t believe it. We just found out (about) those poor babies,” Thaiday said.
Reports widely said the children had been stabbed while the Cairns Post reported they were also suffocated, although police did not immediately confirm this.
Sky News, whose news anchor broke down in tears as the story was breaking, said a stepfather was known to live at the house, but his whereabouts were unknown.