Seven children have died in a fire at a house near the Australian city of Brisbane.
At least seven children are among 11 people presumed dead in one of Australia’s worst urban fire disasters.
The inferno, which destroyed a two-storey house near the city of Brisbane, began around midnight. The house was reportedly home to two families from Tonga and Samoa.
Three men escaped the blaze – one suffering severe burns – and were ‘traumatised beyond belief’, said police Superintendent Noel Powers.
‘Unfortunately we have got quite a number of people who appear to have died as a result of this fire … it’s a total and utter catastrophe, a tragedy beyond all proportions,’ Mr Powers told reporters.
One survivor, Jeremiah Lale, threw mattresses from an upper-floor window of the house in Logan city and jumped, begging his wife and five children to follow.
‘He called them to come and he jumped down and waited,’ said Samoan community spokesman Faimalotoa John Pale.
‘But they all ran into the one room together and, I think with the others, they all died in that room.’
Queensland state Premier Anna Bligh said at least seven of the 11 dead were younger than 18, including a three-year-old. Three generations of one family are reported to have died.
Four bodies have been found in the ruins, with rescue workers facing the grim task of identifying some who died by dental records because they were so badly charred.
Mr Powers blamed four exploding gas bottles for the intensity of the flames, but the cause of the fire is yet to be determined.
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