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By MURRAY MOTTRAM
There will be no cover-up in fire inquiry, pledges Beattie
He spoke of the traumatic experience of going through the burnt-out shell of the hostel yesterday, as police continued the painstaking process of recovering bodies from the upstairs section.
"This is one of the most traumatic things I have had to deal with as Premier," he said. "When you see what's left of the site, you can appreciate some of the anguish that must have been going through the minds of those people struggling to get out of that building.
"I can imagine how traumatic it is for parents and families half way around the world. As a parent and a father, I can't imagine anything more problematic than not knowing the full circumstances. You always have hope, notwithstanding what you have been told, that your son or daughter is alive."
He offered an apology to the families of the dead. The Queensland and Federal governments would try to help families of the overseas victims to come to Australia. On a forthcoming trip to Britain he would be available to any relatives who wished to meet him.
Mr Beattie declared there would be "no cover-up" in the investigation of the tragedy and vowed shortcomings in fire regulations would be fixed. An audit was already under way of boarding houses throughout the State.
"We will get to the bottom of what happened," he said. "We will take whatever action that needs to be taken, as much as you can when you are dealing with human behaviour, and make any changes that need to be made to ensure this never happens again."
Later Mr Paul Neville, the Federal MP for Hinkler, which takes in Childers, said he would await the coroner's findings before making judgment on the local fire protection and inspection system.
Mr Neville, who has viewed police footage of the fire scene, said there had been some "intemperate statements" in the media about the hostel's fire protection. On what he had seen the hostel operators "seem to have given attention to those matters".
A woman who worked at the hostel said it had been fitted with fire safety equipment, including alarms, and had passed safety checks about a month ago.
Isis shire mayor, Councillor Bill Trevor, said there was a rising tide of anger in his community over the fire. "When justice is done we will start rebuilding this community," he said. "We feel saddened that those people who entrusted their children's lives to us have been let down."
Mr Trevor said the main concern of many of the 70 who survived the fire was finding accommodation in Childers, because they wished to stay and work on the fruit and vegetable farms around the town. "I think that says a lot about the resilience of these young people and how we feel about them."