Four children among seven dead in mass Western Australia tragedy

Seven people, including four children, have been killed in Osmington, Western Australia, in what is believed to be the country's worst mass shooting since 1996.

He said five bodies - the four children and one adult - were found inside a building while two adults were found outside.

"Police are now responding to what I can only describe as a horrific incident", said Western Australia state Police Commissioner Chris Dawson".

He added that police were not looking for a suspect - suggesting a potential murder-suicide.

The incident is the worst loss of life in a single shooting incident since the Port Arthur massacre of 1996, in which 35 people were killed and 23 injured when a gunman opened fire in the historic Tasmanian town of Port Arthur.

"I can only describe it as a horrific situation", Dawson said.

All the victims appeared to be residents of the property, police said, but did not explain how they were connected.

"We know that other countries in response to one mass shooting have managed to craft laws that nearly eliminate mass shootings".

In an editorial previous year, the Age said it respected citizens' rights but that there are "some freedoms that have no place in a civilised society, and none more so than the carrying of illegal firearms".

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The Margaret River shire president, Pamela Townshend, was in a meeting when she received a news alert about the shooting.

Later on Friday, police in WA released a statement saying the "process of formally identifying the deceased at the Osmington property is progressing".

Detectives from the Homicide Squad and Forensic Crime Scene Unit have travelled to the scene, about 270 kilometres south of Perth, as part of the investigation.

"This is going to rock our whole community", she said.

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan described it as "tragic and shocking".

Federal MP for Vasse Libby Mettam, whose seat takes in Margaret River, said the deaths had already sent "significant shockwaves" through the town.

She said the family were well known to locals and much loved for their volunteer and charity work, particularly in the area of sustainability.

"They were a very socially aware family, doing their best to create a safe community, and that is why it is so shocking to think that could be destroyed so quickly", she told broadcaster ABC.

  • Adam Floyd