Thirty-three people are confirmed dead and police fear more may have died after a lone gunman went on a bloody shooting rampage at the Port Arthur historic site yesterday.
Late last night the gunman, in his late teens and believed to be from Hobart, was holding three hostages in the Seascape guesthouse five kilometres north of Port Arthur.
Police said that the man was armed with a number of guns, including an M16 combat weapon. At least 18 people were injured and the Royal Hobart Hospital was working overtime to cope.
The massacre, the worst in modern Australian history, began about 1:30pm when the young man pulled an automatic rifle from a tennis bag and began shooting at people inside a cafe at the tourist, eyewitnesses said.
The man had been chatting to people "quite lucidly" when he went into the cafe and started shooting "many, many" people indiscriminately, including children, staff, locals and tourists.
"He left the site shooting as he went, shooting everybody he could see," said Wendy Scurr, who was working at the front desk of the historic site. "He was in a car at that stage, he's on foot now," she told Sky television news.
She said she rang for help and "ran for my life along with hundreds of other people at the site."
Outside the cafe he continued shooting at tourists as they screamed and tried to run from him.
"He wasn't going bang bang bang bang - it was bang and then he'd pick someone else out and line them up and shoot them, witness Phillip Milburn told ABC radio.
"It was a gun that was meant to kill people."
He also shot at a number of cars and later shot more people dead at the nearby Fox and Hounds Hotel. "There is a lady dead in a car at the top of our drive," cafe owner Phillip Kelly told Channel Ten News.
"There have been people shot in the historic site, there have been people shot near the Fox and Hounds."
When the he holed up in a house after driving about 5km from the original shooting site, he began firing at helicopters taking victims to hospital, another witness said.
The Royal Hobart Hospital was put on full disaster alert and more than 200 police were sent to the site.
[image: "Death Scene: An ambulance at the Broad Arrow cafeteria at Port Arthur historic site where yesterday's massacre, which claimed at least 33 lives, began." (33x19.5) ]