As it happened: 49 killed, 48 injured in Christchurch terror attack

This story is no longer being updated. Go here for the latest on the horrific terror attack that's rocked Christchurch and New Zealand.
 
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Here is what we know:
  • Forty-nine people have been killed at two Christchurch mosques in what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is calling "one of New Zealand's darkest days" 
  • A man in his late twenties has been charged with murder and will appear in court on Saturday
  • Forty-eight patients, including children, are being treated in Christchurch Hospital for gunshot wounds ranging from minor to critical
  • Police have evacuated properties near a "location of interest" in Dunedin in relation to the attack
  • Tributes are pouring in from world leaders, including US President Donald Trump and the Queen
  • New Zealand's national security threat level has been lifted from low to high for the first time in the country's history
  • Four people have been arrested, including one woman
  • One of the shooters has been confirmed as an Australian citizen
  • The four individuals in custody were not on any watchlist
  • The shootings took place at a mosque on Deans Ave and another on Linwood Ave

3.27am Buckingham Palace has lowered its flag to half mast.

2.35am - Former US President Barack Obama has sent his condolences.

"Michelle and I send our condolences to the people of New Zealand. We grieve with you and the Muslim community. All of us must stand against hatred in all its forms," he tweeted.

2.24am - Australian Senator Fraser Anning is under fire for blaming the attack on immigration policies which allowed Muslims in New Zealand.

"As always, left-wing politicians and the media will rush to claim that the causes of today's shootings lie with gun laws or those who hold nationalist views but this is all cliched nonsense.

"The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place."

Australian Senator Fraser Anning's statement on the Christchurch attacks.
Australian Senator Fraser Anning's statement on the Christchurch attacks. Photo credit: supplied

1.46am - The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have issued a statement condemning the attacks.

"Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the people who lost their lives in the devastating attack in Christchurch."

"We have all been fortunate to spend time in Christchurch and have felt the warm, open-hearted and generous spirit that is core to its remarkable people.

"No person should ever have to fear attending a sacred place of worship.

"This senseless attack is an affront to the people of Christchurch and New Zealand, and the broader Muslim community.  It is a horrifying assault on a way of life that embodies decency, community, and friendship.

"We know that from this devastation and deep mourning, the people of New Zealand will unite to show that such evil can never defeat compassion and tolerance.

"We send our thoughts and prayers to everyone in New Zealand today."

1.23am - Political and religious leaders around the world have expressed disgust and sorrow at the deadly shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, with some blaming politicians and the media for stoking hatred of Muslims.

"I blame these increasing terror attacks on the current Islamophobia post-9/11 (where) 1.3 billion Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror," Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan posted on social media.

12.42am - US President Donald Trump says the US stands by New Zealand.

"My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the mosques. Forty-nine innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!" he tweeted.

12.27am - The Department of Internal Affairs says anyone sharing graphic video of the shootings is likely to be breaking objectional content laws.

"The content of the video is disturbing and will be harmful for people to see.  This is a very real tragedy with real victims and we strongly encourage people to not share or view the video."  

12.21am - British and French police are stepping up patrols around mosques and other religious sites following the attacks.

Britain's most senior counter-terrorism officer said his officers are ready to help New Zealand.

"Our international network of UK counter-terrorism officers will be ready to support our counterparts in New Zealand in responding to and investigating this appalling attack," Neil Basu, the British National Policing lead for Counter-Terrorism, said in a statement on Friday.

11.41pm - Queen Elizabeth says she is 'deeply saddened' by the horrific terror attacks in Christchurch.

"I have 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," she said.

"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."

11.15pm - Actor Sam Neill has Tweeted his support for the victims of the shooting. 

10.57pm - Police are at a property on Somerville St, Dunedin, in relation to today's attack.

"This is a location of interest in relation to the serious firearms incident in Christchurch today," the statement says. 

"Evacuations of properties in the immediate area have taken place as a precaution.

"Alternative accommodation has been provided for residents requiring it and cordons are in place in the Somerville Street and Everton Road area."

10.38pm - Newshub's European correspondent Lloyd Burr says security in the UK has been heightened around mosques. 

9.57pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has requested the New Zealand flag be flown at half-mast "with immediate effect", according to a statement from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

The flag will remain at half-mast until further notice, as a mark of mourning and respect.

9.47pm - The Embassy of Israel has sent condolences to New Zealand.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the terror attack in Christchurch," the embassy said in a statement.

"A tragic and sad day for New Zealand. Our hearts go out to all those affected by this horrible event."

9.33pm - Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says the city "has changed forever".

"It is beyond belief that something like this should happen in our city and in New Zealand," she said.

"This tragedy will touch all of us. No one will be unaffected. We will all need to pull together and support each other through the coming days and weeks as we come to terms with the immense loss that our city has experienced."

9.28pm - Police are informing people they can register missing persons, or register themselves as alive on the Restoring Family Links (RFL) website

Police have requested the Red Cross activate the website following the shooting.

New Zealanders can also register missing persons on 0800 115 019.

9.20pm - Those affected by this tragedy are advised by police to call 0800 115 019

9.03pm - Police Commissioner Mike Bush confirms that the death toll has risen to 49, and a man in his late twenties has been charged with murder.

There have been no other threats since the police response to Christchurch.

Three others have been arrested and two had firearms on them. Police are still working to establish their connection to the suspect charged with murder.

Previously it was thought two Improvised Explosive Devices had been found on two vehicles, but Bush has now confirmed it was two IEDs on one vehicle. One has been disabled and police were in the process of disabling another.

8.58pm - Bryan Adams has cancelled his Sunday concert in Christchurch.

"Like the rest of New Zealand, we are appalled by today's events and our thoughts and well wishes go out to all those affected," said Neptune Entertainment Director Toby Burrows.

8.53pm - Robert Pattman, Otago University's professor of international relations, says the attacks are a "stark reminder" that we are not immune to terrorism.

"We have seen some disturbing international trends over the past few years and this reflects those trends - a rise in Islamaphobia, of nationalist populism and intolerance," he warned.

"What we don't want is for this atrocity to achieve what the perpetrators hope, which is backlash from the victim which will create a growing spiral of hate."

8.40pm - Ahmadiyya Muslim Community thanks police for their response to the attack and ensuring mosques around the country are safe.

"We have been inundated with messages of love and support. Members of Parliament, dignitaries, the media, Christians, Jews, and people from all backgrounds," National President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mr Bashir Khan said.

"At such times it is important to stand united and stand against all forms of extremism."

8.35pm - The Government has  confirmed that this is the first time in New Zealand history terror level has been lifted from low to "high".

8.33pm - The suspect's former boss, Tracey Grey, told Newshub she was shocked.

"I am completely shocked, he never showed any extremist views or crazy behaviour. I have family in Christchurch and I am devastated for them."

Two others in custody were known to the suspect.

8.17pm - Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has asked for all flags to be flown at half-mast out of respect for the dead.

 

 

8.13pm - Police Commissioner Mike Bush will address media at 9pm to provide an update on the shooting.

8.02pm - Helen Clark weighs in on the "unprecedented attack" in Christchurch, and offers her sympathies to the families.

 

7.46pm - Britomart in Auckland has been evacuated after bags were found unattended. It's believed bomb disposal units carried out controlled detonations.

7.34pm - Forty-eight patients, including children, are being treated in Christchurch Hospital for gunshot wounds.

Canterbury District Health Board said in a statement the injuries range from minor to critical.

Twelve operating theatres are currently in use with some patients needing multiple surgeries.

7.26pm - At least 40 people have been confirmed dead, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed.

Christchurch terror attacks Jacinda Ardern
Jacinda Ardern addresses media, confirming at least 40 killed in Christchurch terror attacks. Photo credit: Newshub.

Ten died at Linwood Ave mosque and 30 were killed at Deans Ave mosque. 

"It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack," Ardern said.

"From what we know, it does appear to have been well planned."

Ardern said two explosives attached to suspects' cars have been disarmed.

"One has publicly stated that they were Australian-born. These are people who I would describe as having extremist views that absolutely no place in New Zealand and no place in the world."

Ardern said she could not rule out that there could be more suspects. New Zealand's national security threat level has been lifted from low to high.

Ardern had a message for those affected.

"Our thoughts and our prayers are with those who have been impacted today. Christchurch was the home of these victims. For many, this may not have been the place they were born."

"New Zealand was their choice."

7.24pm - The Human Rights Commission says the attacks are devastating.

"Our hearts go out to the individuals, families and communities involved."

"There is no place for hate in New Zealand. We urge Kiwis to stand together in unity."

7.20pm - A Dunedin street has reportedly been cordoned off with reports one of the Christchurch shooters originally planned to attack Al Huda Mosque.

7.07pm An AR15 rifle is believed to have been used in the attack. It is the same type of rifle used in the Las Vegas shootings two years ago and at Sandy Hook.

7.02pm - Sky City has cancelled the Federal St 'Get Your Green On' St Patrick's Day event in light of the attacks.

Tonight, and for the rest of the weekend, the Sky Tower's lights will be turned off, to acknowledge the pain felt across New Zealand at this time.

6.56pm - The remainder of regional departures from Christchurch have been cancelled because it is not possible to screen customers and their baggage, Air NZ has tweeted.

6.54pm - Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has condemned the attack by an "extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist". He also confirmed one of the attackers was an Australian-born citizen.

6.48pm - Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson and Green MP Golriz Ghahraman have gone live on Facebook with a message of support for the people of Christchurch.

"We are sending our absolute love to the Christchurch community, to our Muslim families, to our refugee and migrant communites. To everyone who cares," Davidson said. 

 

6.45pm - Uber has been suspended in Christchurch.

6.39pm - Indonesia's foreign minister says the world's biggest Muslim-majority country strongly condemns the shootings and authorities are checking on whether any of its citizens are victims.

6.38pm - The lockdown at Christchurch Hospital is over.

6.35pm - Two mosques at Deans Ave and Linwood Ave will remain locked down tonight, police say.

Police commissioner Mike Bush confirms "a number of fatalities" and says the number is "significant".

He said he would like to reassure members of the public that there is a large police presence in the city and the safety of the community is their priority.

6.32pm - The Ministry of Health says anyone needing mental health support after viewing video footage of the events in Christchurch can free call or text 1737.

6.10pm - Vodafone said it will provide free mobile calling for 24 hours to and from Christchurch.

6.06pm - A Malaysian is among those wounded during the shootings, Malaysia's High Commission in New Zealand says.

6.03pm - Newshub understands dozens of people are dead.

5.56pm - Police say schools across Christchurch are no longer in lockdown.

"We would like to reassure members of the public that there is a large police presence in the city and the safety of the community is our priority."

5.50pm - Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy says the events have shocked all New Zealanders.

"Our hearts go out to the people of Christchurch, especially the people directly affected by this afternoon's terrible violence. Our thoughts are with them, their families and friends. "

"Now more than ever is the time to affirm the values that we hold dear - compassion, kindness and tolerance."

5.37pm - US police are stepping up patrols around mosques in the wake of the Christchurch attacks.

5.34pm - Police said the public should not assume the incident is contained to Christchurch and people in other centres should be on alert.

5.31pm - Four people are in custody, including one woman, Police-Commissioner Mike Bush told media.

There are multiple fatalities.

"At this point I cant say how many, but it is significant."

5.27pm - A witness told NZME a well known Muslim local chased the shooters at a second shooting at a mosque in Linwood.

He was heard telling police officers he was firing in "self defence".

5.24pm - Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says the shooting serves as "a lesson here from which we must all learn". He is calling it "an awfully, awfully sad day" for New Zealand.

5.10pm - Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez‏ and Donald Trump Jr have tweeted about the incident.

5.03pm - Facebook has activated its safety check for people in Christchurch to let friends and family know they're safe. Warning, some of the photos that appear when you click the link are graphic.

5pm - Police say schools are still in lockdown and children are being taken care of by school staff.

"There is no timeframe at this stage for when the lock down will be lifted. Schools will communicate directly with parents when the lockdown is lifted."

4.58pm - Christchurch Airport is operating as normal.

4.55pm - Read more of our coverage here:

4.53pm - NZ Cricket has announced the rest of the Bangladesh cricket tour has been cancelled, after the team narrowly escaped the mosque shooting. They were scheduled to begin their third test against the Blackcaps at nearby Hagley Park on Saturday.

4.48pm - The Prime Minister has tweeted an emotional statement condeming the shooter.

"What has happened in Christchurch is an extraordinary act of unprecedented violence. It has no place in New Zealand. Many of those affected will be members of our migrant communities – New Zealand is their home – they are us."

4.37pm - Newshub political reporter Tova O'Brien says Newshub understands it is the highest death toll from a gun attack in recent New Zealand history.

4.29pm - The Prime Minister's spokesperson the emergency response system has been activated and all major agencies will meet with the Prime Minister in Parliament's bunker.

4.24pm - Air New Zealand is offering flexibility to its customers booked to travel to or from Christchurch today.

The airline will waive any change fees and difference in fare if a customer needs to make changes to travel booked for today.

4.19pm - Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has shared his condolences.

4.11pm - Jacinda Ardern has called today "one of New Zealand's darkest days".

"The person who has perpetuated this violence is not one of us."

"This is an act that has absolutely no place in New Zealand. This is not who we are."

Christchurch massacre
Photo credit: Newshub.

4.04pm - One person is in custody, however police believe there may be other offenders. Police have confirmed there have been a number of fatalities and they are at a number of scenes. 

"We understand that there will be many anxious people but I can assure New Zealanders that Police is doing all it can to resolve this incident," police said in a statement.

"We urge New Zealanders to stay vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour immediately to 111.

"We are mobilising resources nationally and support is being brought into the District.

"We are still working to resolve this incident and we continue to urge Christchurch resident to stay inside.

"We ask all mosques nationally to shut their doors, and advise that people refrain from visiting these premises until further notice."

3.59pm - Around 300 people were reportedly inside the mosque for Friday prayers.

3.27pm - An armed guard at Christchurch Hospital has told Newshub he hasn’t heard of any shooting there. The hospital remains in lockdown.

3.50pm - Newshub has been told from a source many people are dead.

3.45pm - The Guardian reports the shooting is ongoing.

"More shots have been fired in the last five minutes, according to police sources."

3.40pm - Newshub political editor Tova O'Brien says police have confirmed it was a multiple, simultaneous attack.

3.37pm - Footage from the area shows people in distress.

As it happened: 49 killed, 48 injured in Christchurch terror attack

3.33pm - The Guardian is reporting there is a bomb in a car on Strickland St. Their reporter in Christchurch was told by two police officers the bomb is inside a beige Subaru that has crashed three kilometres from where the shootings took place.

There is a cordon in place around the car.

3:26pm - Police have tweeted another update on the situation.

As it happened: 49 killed, 48 injured in Christchurch terror attack

3.24pm - The Prime Minister is set to hold a stand up at 4pm

3:21pm - Christchurch City Council is locking down its central city buildings.

3:16pm Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said police are actively getting the matter under control.

"The message that I really want to get out is please stay away from the central city until further notice."

"All council buildings in the central city are in lockdown and the police are requesting all central city building owners to do the same."

"We are looking after some of the students who were on the climate rally today. They are safe here and we will keep them here until advised by the police that they can leave."

"I would have never have expected anything like this would have happened in Christchurch, I would have never like this to happen in New Zealand."

"It is a shock but I think it is really important that people stay calm, they stay away from the central city and to remind people who are in central city building, you are safer inside the buildings than you are out."

3.12pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has cancelled all her afternoon engagements.

3.03pm - Politicians are tweeting their shock.

 

2.54pm - A caller has told Newshub: "My uncle just told me… he was the last person to get out of the mosque, and he told me his shirt is full of blood. He isn't injured but he has seen many people lying on the ground and is saying so many would have died."

2.52pm - Christchurch Hospital and Outpatients is in lock-down. The public should not attend Christchurch Hospital unless it’s an emergency.

2.47pm - Reports of six people dead, three critical and three serious. Shootings are thought to have happened at two separate mosques.

2.42pm- All schools in Christchurch have been placed into lockdown. Reports of six people dead.

2.35pm- A witness has told Newshub they heard gunshots, and tried to give CPR to a person, but they died.

1.40pm - Police are attending an "evolving incident" near a mosque in Christchurch.

Armed police have been deployed, after reports of shots fired in central Christchurch at 1.40pm.

They are urging anyone in central Christchurch to stay indoors and report any suspicious activity.

Christchurch Girls School is in lockdown in response to the armed attacker.

Do you know more? Email  us at news@newshub.co.nz

"I could hear a whole bunch of popping, I thought it was fireworks," said Christchurch resident Alex Hill.

"Someone said they counted 29 [shots,]" he told Newshub.

Another man told Magic Talk he saw people running out of the mosque, and that he had seen a man in military gear with a high powered gun.

"I heard what I thought was a real loud backfire of a car," the man told Magic Talk.

"And the next minute I turned to my right and just saw people running out of the mosque, and obviously just a couple of more shots and a lady fell over and then a guy in full military gear with what looked like a really high powered gun pointing down the road firing"

"Full camo gear and he didn't look like he had a care in the world"

Newshub.

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