Christchurch shooting LIVE: Forty dead, 20 seriously injured, in New Zealand's 'darkest day'

 smh.com.au  3/15/2019 11:49:24 AM  6

It's been a terrible day for our friends across the ditch, and Australians too, as we all come to terms with what has happened in Christchurch. Here is what we know now:

  • A gunman walked into a mosque on Deans Avenue, Christchurch, around lunchtime on Friday and opened fire on worshippers with a semi-automatic weapon. He livestreamed the attack.
  • A second shooting attack was carried out at a mosque in Linwood 
  • The death toll at 9pm was 49 people: 41 died the Deans Avenue mosque, seven died at the Linwood mosque, and one died in hospital
  • At least 40 others have been hospitalised with gunshot wounds, about half of whom are in a critical condition. Christchurch Hospital had 12 operating theatres in use on Friday night.Survivors have told of their horror as the shootings unfolded
  • The shooter identified himself as 28-year-old Australian man Brenton Tarrant
  • Police took four people into custody and have so far charged a man in his late 20s with murder. He is expected to appear in court on Saturday.
  • Two others remain in custody as investigations continue, while police believe a third person was not involved in the shooting
  • No suspects were on any police watchlists
  • Survivors have told of their horror as the shootings unfolded
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the attacks "New Zealand's darkest day", and it is the deadliest mass shooting in the country's history. 
  • While NZ has raised its terror threat level to high in the wake of the attacks, PM Scott Morrison has said the threat level in Australia remains unchanged on the advice of ASIO.

The Queen has expressed her condolences to the Governor-General of New Zealand, saying in a statement she has been "deeply saddened by the appalling events in Christchurch today.

"Prince Philip and I send our condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives.

"I also pay tribute to the emergency services and volunteers who are providing support to those who have been injured.

"At this tragic time, my thoughts and prayers are with all New Zealanders."

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has also tweeted her condolences to New Zealand, calling the terror attack a "sickening act of violence

Pakistan PM Imran Khan said the attacks reaffirm that "terrorism has no religion", and blamed them on post-9/11 Islamophobia.

Politicians on both sides of Australian parliament have expressed their disgust with a series of tweets from Queensland Senator Fraser Anning that suggested immigration was the cause of the Christchurch terrorist attack, as it was still unfolding.

Latika Bourke has more on that.

Co-host of The Project (and columnist for this masthead), Waleed Aly has delivered an emotional and quietly searing editorial on the Christchurch terror attack during tonight's program.

"Of all the things that I could say tonight, that I'm gutted and I'm scared and I feel overcome with utter hopelessness, the most dishonest thing would be to say that I'm shocked," he said.

It's worth a watch.

Hundreds of mourners have attended Lakemba mosque in Sydney's west for evening prayers tonight to pray for the victims of the Christchurch attack. Among the crowd and a heightened police presence were state and federal politicians, including NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and NSW Opposition Leader Michael Daley. 

Lakemba MP Jihad Dib said the solidarity "between people of all faiths and none" showed that "when hatred rears its head, we must stand together to ensure that humaity always wins out". 

Speaking with Seven News, PM Scott Morrison has said the terrorist threat level in Australia remains unchanged on the advice of ASIO, despite the main suspect in the Christchurch shootings being an Australian.

"The Joint Counter Terrorism operations which investigate these matters have been stood up here in New South Wales and investigations are being undertaken now in relation to this individual," he said. However, he could not comment on whether the suspect has links and supporters on Australian soil.

"In response to these terrorist incidents there is an automatic process which our authorities and police around the country immediately move into. That has been undertaken and that happened earlier today. All steps are taken to ensure the safety of Australians and there is a high level of cooperation directly between New Zealand and Australian authorities," Mr Morrison said.

Yesterday

NZ Police Commissioner Mike Bush said a man in his late 20s has been charged with murder, and should appear in the Christchurch court tomorrow morning.

Three others were apprehended, and police believe one of those people, who was armed and at the scene, "may have had nothing to do with this incident," Commissioner Bush said. Police are still working to understand what the involvement was of two other people who were armed and apprehended at the scene. 

"A number of firearms" have been recovered from the scene of the two mosque attacks, he said.

Yesterday

Football codes on both sides of the Tasman have observed a minute's silence out of respect for the victims of today's terror attack in Christchurch.Super Rugby, NRL, AFLW and A-League games have all taken a moment to acknowledge the atrocity and pay tribute to the victims.Earlier in the day, All Black footballer Sonny Bill Williams, who converted to Islam in 2009, posted an emotional message to Twitter saying he could not put his feelings into words.

Yesterday

Worshippers leaving the Deans Avenue mosque.

Worshippers leaving the Deans Avenue mosque.Credit:George Heard/Stuff

Stories about the dead, injured and survivors who witnessed today's terrible violence are starting to appear as witnesses and survivors' harrowing accounts are told. One of about 200 people waiting for news of their loved ones at Christchurch Hospital has told reporters the four-year-old brother of his friend is among those fighting for life, and he knows a couple in their 50s who were killed.

One man at the Linwood Masjid saw several elderly people "basically all shot", while another man told of escaping only to find his wife shot dead on the footpath outside the mosque.

More on their stories here.

Yesterday

Before he became known today as a mass killer, Brenton Tarrant was known within his childhood town of Grafton as someone who was dedicated to fitness and ran free athletic programs for children.

The 28-year-old, who attended Grafton High School before getting his qualifications in fitness, listened to 17th-century British military music before opening fire on a mosque in New Zealand’s south island, write Laura Chung and Sarah Keoghan, who spoke to his former boss.

The 28-year-old grew up in NSW, and his former boss has given some insight into his earlier years.

The 28-year-old grew up in NSW, and his former boss has given some insight into his earlier years.Credit:ninevms

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