10 Jan 2015

4500 attend funeral for Cairns children

6:27 pm on 10 January 2015

A funeral procession of hearses has made a sombre journey through the streets of Cairns after eight children killed last month were farewelled at a funeral service.

A cortege headed by eight hearses carrying the coffins of eight children leave a memorial service at the Cairns Convention Centre.

A cortege headed by eight hearses carrying the coffins of eight children leave a memorial service at the Cairns Convention Centre. Photo: AAP / Dan Peled

About 4500 family and friends turned out for the service at the Cairns Convention Centre, which was also attended by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Queensland Premier Campbell Newman.

The ABC reports the four girls and four boys, aged between two and 14-years-old, were found dead at the Murray Street property in the far north Queensland city just days before Christmas.

The incident shocked the tightly-knit Torres Strait Islander community, with the families of the eight children undertaking a traditional mourning period ahead of the funerals.

The funeral was called Keriba Omasker, which means "our children" in their Torres Strait Islander Erub dialect.

Two eulogies for the children were read by aunties.

Four chaplains from the children's four schools lit candles and presented them on the podium where eight white coffins were placed.

Mr Abbott and Mr Newman both laid wreaths before the coffins.

Shortly before 1:00pm, eight hearses carrying the children began their journey to the Martyn Street cemetery.

A police escort led the hearses on a slow journey through the streets of Cairns as many residents stood on street corners to watch them pass.

The route to the cemetery included a detour past the street where the children died, before being laid to rest beside each other.

A small group of local residents watched in solemn silence on the corner of Murray Street as the hearses passed.