Residents of far north Queensland are in shock after the bodies of eight children were found following a multiple stabbing in a suburban Cairns home.
The children, aged from 18 months to 15 years, were found this morning in Murray Street, Manoora, where a woman was also located with chest and neck wounds.
Police said they believed the 34-year-old was the mother of seven of the children. They said she was in a stable condition in Cairns Hospital and was helping with their enquiries.
Relatives and neighbours were in tears as news of the tragedy spread and police and emergency service workers were visibly distressed by the confronting scene, the ABC reported.
Dozens of police helped establish a crime scene after being contacted around 11:20am (local time).
Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar said the injured woman was not in police custody.
"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," he said.
"The situation is well controlled at the moment.
"There shouldn't be any concern for anyone else out of this environment."
Police reporter for the Cairns Post Grace Uhr, who was at the scene, said ambulance officers were the first to arrive at the house.
"Initially it was the ambulance called here because of this woman who had been suffering stab wounds, they obviously came to treat her and were obviously made aware of what was going on inside and they contacted police."
Larry Woosup, a relative of the children, said the adults who lived in the house were his niece and nephew.
"I just heard about it. My family just rang because they're worried about our sister," he said.
"Some of them are my sister's kids.
"I just got a phone call from my son's mother from down in Mackay because they had seen the news flash down there.
"This is a close neighbourhood, this Murray Street. I'm desperate like everyone else to hear [what happened]."
Neighbour Bessie Mareko said she did not know those in the house but would say hello when they were in the street.
Ms Mareko said she saw the woman and a number of children at 2:00am this morning cleaning up their home and putting unwanted items on the street.
"I'm really shocked. I just saw her this morning on the veranda ..." she said.
Detective Inspector Asnicar said the crime scene would be cordoned off for several days for forensic officers to investigate.
"The crime scene is being locked down and that includes from me - nobody goes in there until our forensic people go in there," he said.
Emergency responders to the scene were visibly upset while many of the bystanders in the street were in shock and in tears.
"These events are extremely distressing for everyone of course, and police officers aren't immune from that. We're human beings as well," Detective Inspector Asnicar said.
"However, the police that we have here are very highly trained and professional people and they're going about their job in a way that I would expect them to and the QPS would expect them to.
"We are missing nothing as far as conducting this investigation."
Local MP Gavin King said he did not know the family directly but lived nearby.
"It's a street that's only a couple of minutes' drive from my own family home, and having been there so many times and attending community concerts in a park across from where this tragedy occurred ...
"It's just a tragedy that is really very difficult to come to terms with."
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said he was deeply saddened and shocked by the tragedy.
"My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those concerned," he said in a statement.
"I'm also aware of the impact this will have on the emergency service workers and police officers who responded to the scene, and I have asked the Acting Ministers to make sure those individuals are receiving the support they need.
"Indeed, the whole Cairns community and the people of Queensland will feel the effects of this tragedy, particularly at a time of year when families come together."
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said news of the "unspeakable crime" was "heartbreaking".
"All parents would feel a gut-wrenching sadness at what has happened," he said in a statement.