Christchurch terror attack: Families' anxious wait for bodies to be released

People lay flowers and notes to pay tribute close to the Al Noor Mosque shooting area, in Christchurch.
People lay flowers and notes to pay tribute close to the Al Noor Mosque shooting area, in Christchurch. Photo credit: Getty

A Christchurch Islamic leader says the bodies of the victims of Christchurch terror attack will mostly likely be released at around midday on Sunday.

Forty-nine so far have been confirmed dead in the shootings at two mosques, while dozens more remain in hospital - including children.

For the families who've lost loved ones, the wait to bury their dead has been another blow. Under Islamic custom, it's meant to happen straight away.

Linwood assistant Imam Lateef Alabi says around 60 people will wash and shroud the bodies at the mosques, before they go to their graves.

"We've started digging out the graves - things are ready. From the Government's side, they've done the best they can do, so it's just that we have to wait."

While bodies are supposed to be buried without delay in Islam, the Koran also says to follow your country's laws, says Alabi.

He says while most of the families understand procedure must be followed, a small number feel angry and bitter.

"They will eventually release the bodies, but at the same time we request the police to complete the process as soon as possible."

The two mosques are still being treated as a crime scene.

One of the suspects, Australian man Brenton Tarrant, appeared in court on Saturday charged with murder. More charges are likely to follow, police say.

Newshub will be broadcasting at 10am on Sunday to cover the latest events. You can watch it online here or on Three.

If you would like to donate to the official Victim Support fund, go here. Victim Support's number is 0800 842846.

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