Queensland police are investigating a horrific scene in Cairns in which eight children are believed to have been stabbed to death.
The children are aged between 18 months and 15 years old.
The deaths took place at a property on Murray Street in the Cairns suburb of Manoora.
Police were called to a house about 11.20am after receiving reports of a woman with serious injuries.
Police found the bodies of the children in a search of the home.
The woman, aged 34, is being treated for her injuries and is assisting officers with their investigations.
Police are yet to officially confirm the nature of the injuries suffered by the woman.
However, a far north regional crime co-ordinator, Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar, told Guardian Australia the public had nothing to fear from the incident, which officers now had in hand.
Addressing the media later outside the scene, Asnicar said officers were examining the Murray Street house now.
He himself has not yet been inside, but has been briefed on the number of victims.
“I can tell you that at this stage I believe there’s eight. As I told you at this stage the scene is locked down, that could go up or down,” he said.
Asked about the age of the children, he said: “I believe between 18 months and 15 years in age.”
Aniscar said police the police who first responded to the incident were distressed but acted professionally.
“These events are extremely distressing for everyone, of course, and police officers aren’t immune to that, we’re human beings as well. But the police we have here are very highly trained and professional ...
“This will be done to the nth degree and we will cover every angle.”
Aniscare would not say whether the children were all members of the same family, or whether the 34-year-old woman, who was found seriously injured and taken to hospital, was related to them.
He said the woman was in a stable condition and was helping police with their inquiries, but was not in police custody.
“As it stands at the moment there’s no need for the public to be concerned, other than it’s a tragic, tragic incident.”
Officers from the Cairns criminal investigation branch, the child protection and investigation unit and scenes of crime have set up a mobile facility at the scene.
A Murray Street resident, Stephen Lillingstone, told Guardian Australia the incident had occurred on a section of the street that was almost exclusively publicly owned housing.
“That area where it is is a bit rowdy,” he said. “You get your flare-ups and everything.”