Fifty dead in mosque terror attack
- There have been two attacks - at the Masjid Al Noor Mosque next to Hagley Park, and at the Linwood Masjid Mosque in the suburb of Linwood.
- 50 people have died, police have confirmed. 41 at Deans Ave mosque and seven at the Linwood mosque. One person who had been injured has since died and Sunday morning Police Commissioner Mike Bush confirmed a further death.
- One person in their late 20s has been charged with murder and will appear in court tomorrow.
- Three others are in custody, but one of these people is not thought to be connected to shootings. But police warn there could be more offenders.
- The PM said those in custody were not on any security watch lists.
- Canterbury DHB says 48 patients with gunshot wounds are being treated at Christchurch Hospital.
Updated: The death toll has risen to 50 after the terrorist attack at two mosques in Christchurch today, police have confirmed.
Forty one people died at the Deans Avenue mosque, while 7 died at the Linwood Avenue mosque. Two further deaths have since been reported. A further 20 people are seriously injured and in intensive care, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
Canterbury DHB said 48 patients with gunshot wounds are being treated at Christchurch Hospital.
Ardern said it can only be described as a terrorist act and the national security threat level has been lifted from low to high.
She said this was a well-planned attack, with explosive devices also found attached to vehicles of some of those arrested.
Ardern said it appears there are no other shooters at large, but they cannot assume that.
None of the people arrested were on a terrorist watch list, she said.
Earlier this afternoon Police Commissioner Mike Bush said there were multiple fatalities and that three men and one woman are in custody. Police cannot confirm whether there are other people involved.
An Australian is among those arrested following the Christchurch shootings, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
He said he was unsure if other locations were under threat or if other people were involved. Police still do not have the identity of the victims of the shooting. Police are setting up a facility so that people can phone in and check on their loved ones, Bush said.
Police say they are still treating the situation in Christchurch as ongoing, and strongly urge people to stay indoors, and keep safe.
"We have mobilised every police resource in the Canterbury region to respond to this," Bush said.
"There were a number of IEDs attached to vehicles that we also stopped. They've been made safe by the Defence Force but that does go to the seriousness of the situation."
Bush said social media footage of the incidents is very disturbing and police are looking at how to remove it from the public domain.
Police have told mosques nationwide to shut their doors until further notice, as the situation in Christchurch unfolds. The mosques where the shootings occurred, in Riccarton and Linwood, remain in lock down.
Police are unsure if other locations are under threat and officers have been mobilised across the country, Bush said.
He warned anyone who was thinking of going to a mosque anywhere in New Zealand today not to go, and for mosques to close their doors until they hear from police.
Christchurch Airport is still open, however some flights have been cancelled. Air New Zealand has cancelled 17 regional turbo prop services this evening as it is not possible to screen customers and their baggage, but jet operations from Christchurch Airport will continue.
Forty-eight patients with gunshot wounds are being treated at Christchurch Hospital after the attacks.
Canterbury District Health Board chief executive David Meates said the patients range from young children to adults with gunshot wounds, with injuries ranging from critical to minor.
He said 12 operating theatres are currently in use and due to the nature of some of the injuries, many people will need multiple surgeries.
There is sufficient capacity and staff at Christchurch Hospital and the police cordon has been lifted from the site, so people who need emergency health care can now attend the Christchurch Hospital Emergency Department, he said.
About 200 family members are on site awaiting news of their family members, Meates said.
Earlier today, a video was posted on YouTube that appeared to show the mass killing at a Deans Ave mosque in Central Christchurch.
The footage is from the helmet camera of a person carrying a semi-automatic weapon and shows the person approaching the main doors of the mosque, firing as he enters.
The video was posted under the name of Brenton Tarrant. Someone of the same name has posted a manifesto on other social media sites giving the reasons for carrying out the killing, claiming to be an Australian-born, working-class white man.
He poses a series of questions and then answers them.
He says the attacks were racist in origin and there was an anti Islamic motivation to them.
Answering his own question “was the attack anti-immigration in origin?" he posted: “Yes, beyond all doubt, anti-immigration, anti-ethnic replacement and anti-cultural replacement.”
The footage shows the shooter systematically moving from room to room in the mosque, gunning down anybody he saw. As each magazine is emptied he replaces it with a new one and starts firing again.
The footage shows about 20 bodies – including children – lying on the ground, some piled in heaps in the corner. Six people are shot on camera and fall to the ground.
One person attempts to crawl down the hallway away from the shooter but is shot again.
Another tries to flee by running towards the camera before being shot.
Approximately 110 shots were fired from the semi-automatic weapon. The magazines have messages written on them in white paint.
The manifesto, posted on social media, claims New Zealand was not the original choice for the attack. The writer quoted himself as saying "I only arrived to live in New Zealand temporarily as I planned and trained, but I've soon found out that New Zealand was a target rich of an environment as anywhere else in the West".
"Secondly, an attack in New Zealand would bring to attention the truth of the assault on our civilisation, that nowhere in the world was safe, the invaders were in all of our lands, even in the remotest areas of the world and that there was nowhere left to go that was safe and free from mass immigration."
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, speaking in New Plymouth, said the attack marked one of New Zealand's darkest days.
The attacker "is not us" and had no place in New Zealand society.
Credible information is crucial in a crisis.
The pandemic is pushing us into an unknown and uncertain future. As the crisis unfolds the need for accurate, balanced and thorough reporting will be vital. Newsroom’s team of journalists is working hard to bring you the facts but, now more than ever, we need your support.
Reader donations are critical to what we do. If you can help us, please click the button to ensure we can continue to provide quality independent journalism you can trust.