Source: AAP | Published: Friday June 23

Beattie ensures full investigation into hostel fire
Queensland Premier Peter Beattie said today he was considering a state day of mourning in the aftermath of the Childers backpacker fire.

'We will sit down when we know the full magnitude of it and I certainly wouldn't exclude that,' Mr Beattie said.

Speaking in Brisbane before flying out to the tiny Queensland town, the premier moved to reassure the families of the victims that there would be no attempt to cover up the disaster.

Mr Beattie said a full and proper investigation would be held and laws governing backpacker accommodation may be overhauled as a result.

The state government was planning to provide accommodation for victims' families and may consider paying for their airfares to Australia.

Mr Beattie said Prime Minister John Howard had assured him that the federal government would provide what support was necessary.

The bodies of 15 people that been located were yet to be taken from the scene and another three people were still unaccounted for. Three Australian's were among the dead or missing.

The blaze roared through the Palace Backpackers hostel in Childers on Queensland central coast about 12.30am today.

The 3,000-strong community was still reeling from the event which 69 other backpackers survived.

The Salvation Army was caring for the survivors, some who suffered smoke inhalation, in the town's civic centre.

The backpackers were among an annual influx of visitors to the fruit and vegetable growing region who worked on local farms picking produce.

Mr Beattie described the disaster as a terrible tragedy of enormous proportions.

'All I can simply say is that this is a terrible tragedy and we will provide every piece of support we can for those surviving and for those families who unfortunately have tragically lost someone in this fire,' Mr Beattie told reporters.

'There will be no cover up on any of these matters, clearly this is a tragedy, an extraordinary tragedy, which we will obviously make sure is fully investigated.'

Mr Beattie said any report into the tragedy would be acted on 'very clearly and decisively' by the state government.

He refused to be drawn on the circumstances of the fire, saying the state government had not yet received an official report.

'Any report that comes down after the investigation of this tragedy, clearly we will act on, and we will act on it very clearly and very decisively,' he said.

'I think I'm as stunned by this as all Queenslanders and Australians are ... we have a reputation of being a safe destination of being a friendly state of Australia and that is true.

'That friendliness and openness means that we deal with these things in an open and transparent way because I can imagine what it would be like if you lost someone in a tragedy like this, you would want things sorted through, and that's what we will do.'

The premier also moved to reassure the international community that Queensland was a safe place to visit.

'We would clearly want to provide that reassurance to national and international communities that this is a safe place to visit and the people are safe here,' he said.

'I want to be cautious with what I say because this is a tragedy of enormous proportions, but if a crackdown is needed there will be a crackdown.'