Police searching a farm for a gunman who killed four people in central Austria say they have found the charred body of what they believe was the suspect.

map-melk-austria

Melk is some 70 km west of Vienna. (Google)

Regional police spokesman Roland Scherscher says the body was discovered early Wednesday after police pushed in a hidden door that opened into a concealed cellar in one of the buildings on the farm the gunman had holed up in.

The body was found more than a day after the gunman barricaded himself in a farm building near Melk, a town 70 kilometres west of Vienna.

Scherscher told reporters that forensic experts still had to identify the body but police believe it was that of the gunman, who apparently set himself ablaze.

The killings began shortly after midnight Monday when police stopped the man on a road near a wilderness area west of Vienna, where frequent poaching incidents occur.

The gunman fled in his car, which landed in a ditch in the nearby town of Annaberg, then shot and wounded a member of Austria's Cobra SWAT team at a police checkpoint, said Grundboeck.

An ambulance raced to the scene, but the gunman shot and killed its driver as he tried to give first aid to the wounded policeman, who later died. The gunman also shot and wounded another officer at the scene.

Later Tuesday, another officer who had been missing was found shot dead in his patrol car, said Grundboeck. Regional police spokesman Roland Scherscher said that officer was apparently killed after the suspect carjacked the police vehicle and took him hostage.

The attacker then fatally shot a second police officer at a roadblock before barricading himself in the farm building on the outskirts of Melk, a central town 70 kilometres west of Vienna, Grundboeck said. The gunman sporadically fired at police units near the building. After a 12-hour standoff, police stormed the building and searched for the suspect.

State broadcaster ORF reported that the suspect was a 55-year-old poacher. Police identified him only as Alois H, in keeping with Austrian law that keeps criminal suspects anonymous .

The provincial government of Lower Austria ordered black flags flown from all public buildings in honour of the dead.