Eleven people perished Tuesday when a fire burned down a house near Brisbane, Australia.
Search teams are trying to retrieve the victims’ bodies from the two-story house, but the process is proving most difficult due to the extensive damage caused by the fire. The intense blaze also destroyed two vehicles parked near the building. It is not known whether smoke alarms were fitted in the home.
The cause of the blaze is under investigation, but authorities said it appears to have started underneath the house. The flames quickly engulfed the building, trapping the victims inside.
One man who escaped from the home was taken to an area hospital for facial burns while a second man remained on the scene despite suffering shoulder injuries. A third man, who managed to flee the fire, did not appear to be injured. Three women and eight children did not make it out alive. One girl was only three years old.
“This event is potentially the worst residential fire tragedy in Queensland’s history,” Police Minister Neil Roberts said.
Hundreds of residents from the community have gathered near the burnt structure to pay their respects. Leaders from five area churches also held prayer vigils for the victims.