Australian police say they have found the bodies of eight children and a woman suffering from stab wounds in a house in northern city.
Queensland state police said they were called to a house in the Cairns suburb of Manoora Friday morning and found a wounded woman and the bodies of eight children aged between 18 months to 15 years.
Authorities say the 34-year-old woman has been hospitalized in stable condition and is helping them with their investigation.
Australian media cited the injured woman's cousin, Lisa Thaiday, as saying the children were all siblings and the woman was their mother.
The cousin said another sibling, a 20-year-old man, arrived home to find his brothers and sisters dead .
Australia is already in a state of heightened alert after police stormed a Sydney cafe early on Tuesday morning to end a 16-hour hostage standoff in which three people were killed, including the hostage-taker.
While unrelated to the mass stabbing in Cairns, the Sydney siege has triggered an outpouring of grief, with shocked Australians laying thousands of bouquets of flowers at a makeshift shrine in a central city mall near the siege cafe.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott called the events in Cairns “heartbreaking” and acknowledged that these were “trying days” for Australia.
“All parents would feel a gut-wrenching sadness at what has happened. This is an unspeakable crime. Tonight, there will be tears and prayers across our country for these children,” he said in a media release.
Police in Cairns urged calm.
“There is no need for the public to be concerned about this, other than it is a tragic, tragic event. The situation is well controlled at the moment and there shouldn't be any concerns for anyone else,” Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar told reporters.
Specialist officers were being sent from Brisbane, the state capital, to assist with the investigation, Asnicar said.
Australian media outlets reported that the neighborhood was predominantly inhabited by indigenous Aboriginal Australians, and was known by residents to have a high crime rate.
Some material for this report came from Reuters.