Heartache, prayers and songs to comfort and remember

After a tragic loss of 11 lives, a close community gathers, writes Bridie Jabour.

THE patriarch of the family wiped out in one of the nation's worst house fires smiled and said: ''It's not fair, mum has gone on holidays without me,'' when he learnt his wife was among the 11 victims.

Tau Taufa, 66, escaped at his home in Wagensvedlt Street, Slacks Creek, south of Brisbane, but lost his wife, Fusi, daughter, three grandchildren, sister-in-law and five nieces and nephews.

Last night he addressed more than 4000 people during a prayer gathering for his relatives at an indoor sports centre in Logan.

''There's not enough good people in heaven - that's why they took my people,'' said Mr Taufu, clutching his daughter Treicee for support.

Mourners had piled flowers on a table in front of the sports centre stage and the crowd broke out in an impromptu rendition of Amazing Grace.

A joint message from the Tongan and Samoan communities of Logan said ''as the grief manifests the hopes of the people come together to praise the world and thank the people.''


Mr Taufa's son, Sam, had earlier addressed about 150 mourners keeping vigil in the street.

''We lost 11 members of our family but in happiness I've gained a lot of brothers and sisters in all of you - and not just here in Brisbane but all over the world,'' he said.

"This is all we have left, each other. I might have lost my mum but I've gained more here in you … I don't know what God has in plan but I do know he loves us.'' He then revealed his father's hospital bed response to news of his wife's death before collapsing, sobbing. He was taken to hospital suffering chest pain.

The mournful songs of Tongans and Samoans rang out as the grim search for bodies entered its second day, with the cause of the midnight inferno still not known.

A screen outside the charred hull of the home was transformed into a shrine, photos of 11 lost souls scattered among blossoms. They were three generations of a large, religious clan: Fusi Taufa, 47, six members of the Lale family - Neti-Teukisia, 42, and her children Jerry, 18, Paul, 17, Lafoa'i, 14, Selamafi, 10 and Richard, 8 - Anamalia Taufa, 23, and her daughters, La'Haina Matauaina, 6, and Kahlani Matauaina, 3, and Ardelle Taufa Lee, 16.

Ardelle's father, Vincent Vaetoa, spent a heartbreaking night outside the house.

''My little girl is in there - until she comes out I'm not going anywhere,'' he said.

In the evening, Jeremiah Lale, whose wife and five children perished, wore a suit as he marched behind a hearse, unable to contain his grief.

Sergeant Stephen Cook, of Queensland's disaster victim identification squad, paid tribute to those who had gathered.

''When we are working inside, we can hear them singing and it gives us a lift as well,'' he said.

with Danielle Cronin and AAP