New Zealand’s police commissioner, Mike Bush, says the number of people killed has increased to 49 after one of the victims died in hospital.
A man has been charged with murder and will appear in court tomorrow.
One of those arrested may have had nothing to do with the attack, Bush said. The two other people arrested in possession of firearms are still being investigated.
8.08am 08:00 Updated at 8.08am GMT
Before the shooting starting, the Al Noor mosque in the New Zealand city of
Christchurch was “peaceful, calm and quiet”.
“As it is when the sermon starts, you could hear a pin drop,” a man identified as Ramzan told reporters on Friday.
Then about 1.40pm during afternoon prayers, gunfire broke out.
“It started in the main room …
I was in the side room, so I didn’t see who was shooting but I saw that some people were running out to my room where I was in, I saw some people had blood on their body and some people were limping,” Ramzan told reporters.
“It was at the moment I realised things were really serious.”
Forty people have been confirmed dead after shootings at two mosques Christchurch on Friday.
Three suspects – including at least one Australian – are in custody and multiple explosive devices have been found attached to cars in the city.
Witnesses describe Christchurch attack: ‘I saw people drop dead’
Theresa May has expressed her condolences. 7.58am 07:58
“On behalf of the UK, my deepest condolences to the people of New Zealand after the horrifying terrorist attack in Christchurch.
My thoughts are with all of those affected by this sickening act of violence.” – PM
March 15, 2019 UK Prime Minister
Police in New South Wales say there has been no specific threat to any mosque in Sydney or elsewhere in the state. In a statement it added:
Police have increased patrols and senior officers have also reached out to community and religious leaders across the state to provide support and reassurance.
NSW Police Force will continue to do everything possible to ensure the safety and security of all members of the community and everyone should continue to go about their business without fear.
48 people treated for gunshot wounds
Christchurch hospital is treating 48 people, including young children, for gunshot wounds, according to David Meates, Chief Executive, Canterbury District Health Board.
In a statement he said injuries range from critical to minor.
Twelve 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.
We have asked for some national services, which are usually provided in Christchurch, to be diverted to other centres e.g spinal cord injury service.
We are grateful for the offers of support from other DHBs and from our staff who have offered to work longer shifts, with many volunteering to come in and help.
Around 200 family members are on site awaiting news of their loved ones. Together with police we are providing support to these people.
Unless it’s essential, we ask that people don’t come to visit patients Christchurch Hospital, as we are trying to reduce the numbers of people on the hospital site.
We have representatives from the mosque and the Muslim community with us, and interpreters to assist with communications.
Women due to give birth have been contacted by the maternity team to advise them they should go to one of our community maternity units unless they need hospital level care. Lead Maternity Carers and midwives have been informed of this.
Once we have provided for the medical needs of those injured, and the wellbeing of their families and whanau, we will be able to focus on the psychosocial wellbeing of our wider Canterbury community.
We envisage we will see an increasing demand for wellbeing support over the coming days and weeks as the reality and enormity of what has happened in our city today sinks in.
New Zealand police commissioner, Mike Bush, is due to give another update in about 30 minutes at 9pm local time.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush will speak to media at 9pm this evening to provide an update on the serious firearms incident in Christchurch.
Media are asked to gather at the Royal Society, Turnbull Street, Thorndon, Wellington.
March 15, 2019 New Zealand Police
What we know so far
Forty people been killed and 20 injured in a terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, which occurred during afternoon prayers.
Three people – one of them an Australian-born man – are in custody.
It was described as “a terrorist attack” by NZ prime minister Jacinda Ardern, and an “extremist, right-wing violent terrorist [attack]” by Australian prime minister Scott Morrison.
Christchurch remains on lockdown.
Ardern said: “Many directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand, they may even be refugees here…
They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not.”
The attacker is believed to have livestreamed at least one of the attacks.
Police urged people not to share the “distressing” footage, which many Australian news outlets ignored .
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK said they were not aware of any Britons caught up in the attack, writes Nadeem Badshah.
A spokesman said no Britons have come to our attention.
Hamzah Noor Yahaya, a survivor of the shootings at Al Noor mosque, stands in front of Christchurch Hospital and waits to be picked up by his wife.
Flags will be at half-mast in Australia today, and buildings in Melbourne will be lit up in tribute, according to the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews.
The UK foreign minister, Jeremy Hunt, also issued a message:
Out of respect and in condolence for all those killed in the terrorist attack in New Zealand, I have asked for flags to be flown at half-mast.
Melbourne’s buildings will be lit up in New Zealand colours tonight in solidarity, and flags will be flown at half-mast tomorrow as a sign of respect.
Our hearts go out to the people of New Zealand following the news of this terrible act in Christchurch.
NZ is one of the most peaceful, peace-loving and generous nations in the world.
Your friends in the UK stand with you today in deepest sympathy.