Asia-Pacific

Eleven killed in Australia blaze near Brisbane

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Media captionActing Fire and Rescue Superintendent Peter Ryan says he hasn't seen a tragedy on this scale before

Police in Australia have launched an investigation into the cause of a house fire near Brisbane in which 11 people died.

Eight of the victims are thought to be teenagers and children; one was just three years old.

Two Pacific Islander families from Tonga and Samoa were inside the house when it caught fire.

Queensland's police minister said it was "potentially the worst residential fire tragedy in the state's history".

Neighbours in the suburban street south of Brisbane said they were awoken by the sound of explosions and screams, then watched as fire devoured the two-storey wooden house, local reports said.

Three men managed to escape the flames. Local community leaders said they were "traumatised beyond belief".

One of the men jumped from a balcony thinking his wife and two young daughters were safe. When he realised they were still inside, it was too late to go back in to rescue them.

Veteran firefighters described the blaze as the worst they had ever seen. Police said the fire was "a tragedy on an unimaginable scale".