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Autopsies to be carried out on eight children stabbed to death 20/12/2014
Mersane Warria five years ago at Cairns Hospital. She has been arrested over the death of eight children. © Supplied Mersane Warria five years ago at Cairns Hospital. She has been arrested over the death of eight children.

Queensland police are still piecing together exactly what happened in the lead up to the stabbing murder of eight children in the Far North Queensland city of Cairns, but said they will soon have an idea of “every minute” of the crime.

Mersane Warria, the mother of seven of the children and aunt of the eighth, was arrested for murder overnight and remains under police guard at Cairns Hospital. She is yet to be charged.

Police have now positively identified the victims as four girls, aged 14, 12, 11 and two and four boys, aged nine, eight, six and five.

A memorial of flowers toys and candles is seen in a park next to the home of a multiple stabbing in the suburb of Manoora, Cairns, Australia. Cairns killings: Eight children found dead in home

Police were called to the family’s house on Murray Street, Manoora, about 11am yesterday after reports of shouting and screaming. It is believed a 20-year-old old man arrived home and discovered the bodies of his siblings and cousin, aged between 18 months and 15 years. Police arrived a short time later.

The mass murder has left the Far North Queensland city in shock and tributes have begun to amass out the front of the home.

A Queensland Police Service spokesman said pathologists had now begun the autopsy of the children as police attempt to piece together exactly what happened.

“Every minute we have a better understanding of what has occurred,” he said.

“The investigation is still being conducted but I can guarantee you that when this investigation concludes we will have an idea of every minute of what has occurred there.”

He said forensic officers were still at the house and did not expect to finish their work for several days.

Ms Warria, 37, is in a stable condition and is in hospital with stab wounds. Police have been able to speak with her, Detective Inspector Asnicar said.

"At this time she is awake and lucid and able to speak," the police spokesman said.

He would not speculate on whether charges would be laid for all eight murders but said police were not looking for "anybody else".

I've lost a beautiful daughter," the elderly man told AAP.

"What for? What has she done?"

He last saw his daughter the night before she died at a local McDonald's restaurant where she was eating dinner with friends.

"I said come with me but she said: `Oh no dad, I'm going with my friends, my aunty,'" he told AAP.

A nearby community support centre is also open and providing support, including counselling, to members of the community.

Cairns Regional Council Mayor Bob Manning told the TODAY show the community was still in shock, but would attempt to move forward.

Cairns state Liberal MP Gavin King told ABC the local community was devastated by the incident.

"This area has had its ups and downs, but that’s not out of the ordinary, most communities have their ups and downs," Mr King, who is also the former chief of staff and editor at large of the Cairns Post, said.

"I think something like this is such a shock, it's completely out of the blue.

"It's completely incomprehensible."

Anyone distressed by this story should contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.

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