Australian House Fire Kills 11 Pacific Islanders, Including Chidren

Posted August 24th, 2011 at 1:45 am (UTC-5)
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Australian authorities say 11 people, including several children, died in a house fire near the eastern city of Brisbane early Wednesday.

Police say a total of 14 Pacific Islanders were in the house when the fire broke out after midnight in the town of Logan. Three men managed to escape, with one suffering facial burns and another an injured shoulder.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh says one of the men lost his wife and five children in the blaze. She said grief counselors are being dispatched to schools the children attended.

The victims belonged to two families who hail from the Pacific island nations of Tonga and Samoa.

The cause of the fire has not been determined. Neighbors say they heard a loud explosion before the house burst into flames.

Police describe the fire as a “total, utter catastrophe.”