PM says bodies of loved ones being returned to families following Christchurch mosque attacks

This wraps up 1 NEWS' Now's live coverage of the Christchurch terror attacks for Sunday. Live coverage will resume tomorrow.

Two woman hugging each other after Christchurch terror attack. Source: 1 NEWS

7.13pm: "Out of respect for the people affected by this tragedy and the concerns of local authorities, we're also removing all edited versions of the video that do not show graphic content," Facebook New Zealand's Mia Garlick said.

7.08pm: Facebook removed 1.5 million videos of the attack around the world within the first 24 hours, Facebook Newsroom said on Twitter, over 1.2 million of which were blocked during the upload stage.

6.57pm: The Christchurch Shooting Victims' Fund has reached $4 million on Givealittle, with 56,011 people donating.  

The two officers who arrested the gunman in Linwood had been in Christchurch for firearms training. 

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They and hundreds of staff from all emergency services raced towards danger, trying to stop the carnage and save lives. Source: 1 NEWS

More than 20 ambulances rushed to the scene in just minutes to attend to the victims.

6.45pm: As the faces of those killed in the Christchurch mosque attacks are revealed, tales of heroism have started to emerge.  One man, Naeem Rashid, was killed as he attempted to take down the gunman. His son Talha, 21, was also killed.

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As the death toll reaches 50 and people grieve, tales of heroism are emerging. Source: 1 NEWS

6.29pm: By the time the Prime Minister's Office received the gunman's manifesto and passed it on to police, officers were already getting calls of gunfire, 1 NEWS understands.

Members of the Mangu Kaha Aotearoa biker gang paid an emotional tribute to the victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings, performing a haka to honour those killed.

6.03pm: Two children were killed in the terrorist attack, police confirmed today. One of them is believed to be a three-year-old Somali boy.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush today clarified the police's response times in a press conference, saying that armed police were on the scene within six minutes of receiving a call, while the AOS were on the scene within 10 minutes.  The gunman was in custody in 36 minutes. 

Police say there will be an increased police presence across the country tomorrow and for the remainder of the week, with more than 200 police officers carrying out a variety of roles. 

The nationalities of the victims cannot be confirmed at this stage, the Chief Coroner said.

Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall said in a press conference this afternoon that two other coroners and four support staff have been made available in Christchurch to speed up the identification process.
"Identification hearings will start this afternoon and we are anticipating that the process of returning the deceased will commence tonight," she said.

Presmises have been made available to allow families to carry out cultural traditions such as the washing and shrouding of the bodies, he said.

More than 70 disaster victim identification officers are working to identify and return the bodies of loved ones to their families, Deputy Commissioner Haumaha said. They are being assisted by members of the New Zealand Defence Force in the process.

"The past 48 hours have been totally traumatic for these families, and many of them have not slept," Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha said in a press conference today. "To add to the trauma, they have been unable to bury their loved ones according to Muslim traditions, and we are working very hard to ease the pain of that." 

A message card is placed at a collection of flowers left at Christchurch's Botanical Gardens. Source: Associated Press

4.59pm: Members of Parliament will pay tribute in the House on Tuesday.

4.54pm: Support is being provided to some schools and will be expanded on as students return to school tomorrow morning, Ms Ardern said. 

Another person has been taken into custody as a result of the investigation but there is no confirmation on if they are linked to the attacks, the Prime Minister said. 

An additional 120 police officers will be in Christchurch, with mosques having police presence during mosques' opening hours. 

The Prime Minister's Office was one of 30 recipients to receive the gunman's manifesto, nine minutes before the attack took place.

 "They were a disgrace," The PM said in reference to Australia Senator Fraser Anning's comments blaming Muslim immigration for Friday's terror incident.

"We have a delegation from Turkey who will be visiting New Zealand to bring their expression of solidarity directly to the Muslim community. We welcome that," she said.

The 28-year-old gunman has been remanded in custody until April 5, with police saying he will face further charges, Ms Ardern said.  He is being held in a specialist security facility.

"The bodies are beginning to be returned to their families from this evening," the Prime Minister said.

"It is likely to be a small number to begin with. The expectation is that all bodies will be returned to families by Wednesday."

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addressed reporters at the Beehive in Wellington late this afternoon. Source: 1 NEWS

4.16pm: A provisional list of people killed in the Christchurch terror attacks was released to families late last night, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement today. "This is not a formal list and will not be until formal identification has been completed." 

"They were loved ones, and they were New Zealanders," she said.

A message card is placed at a collection of flowers left at Christchurch's Botanical Gardens. Source: Associated Press

4.11pm: Flowers and messages written in chalk from inside the grounds of Kilbirnie Islamic Centre in Wellington.

Flowers placed inside the Kilbirnie Islamic Centre in Wellington. Source: 1 NEWS

Messages and images written in chalk in the Kilsbirnie Islamic Centre in the capital. Source: 1 NEWS

3.35pm: All Blacks captain Kieran Read has posted a heartfelt tribute to the victims of Friday's terror attack, writing, "To say I have had a tough 24 hours of reflection here in Christchurch is an understatement. That this hate filled atrocity has happened in our back yard is beyond words.

"My heart goes out to the victims and their families, our Muslim community and the people of Christchurch.

"Our nation is experiencing a great loss of innocence in the face of all that happened yesterday. Bigotry and intolerance has no place here in Aotearoa. This is not who we are. Our strength lies in our diversity and while acts such as this are orchestrated in an attempt to divide us, love and unity will always prevail. #weareone."

3.21pm: Nine patients were treated and discharged from Christchurch Hospital yesterday, the hospital's CEO David Meates said.

3.17pm: In a statement, Bruce Rifle Club told 1 NEWS that all of their 107 members "have been found fit and proper by NZ Police to hold Firearms Licenses and own/use Firearms."

"The Bruce Rifle Club Executive Committee continue to assist NZ Police with their inquiries."

3.12pm: The online fundraising campaign for the victims of the Christchurch terror attacks has reached $3.6 million in donations since it was created two days ago.

"We expect that Christchurch schools and ECE centres will be open on Monday. We are working closely with schools and ECE centres to put the right supports in place in preparation for the return of staff, students and children. We will provide updates if anything changes," the Ministry of Education said in a tweet.

2.43pm: A pair of football boots and a jersey have been placed among the flowers by Mainland Football players and staff at a vigil in Christchurch.

Dozens of Mainland Football players and staff pay their respects. Source: 1 NEWS

A pair of football boots and a jersey left among the flowers at a vigil in Christchurch. Source: 1 NEWS

2.26pm: The Black Power gang have performed an emotional haka outside the cordon erected around Deans Ave, where the Al Noor mosque is located. 

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The gang performed the haka at the cordon erected outside the mosque on Deans Avenue this afternoon. Source: 1 NEWS

2.19pm: A wall of flowers photographed in Christchurch.

A wall of flowers photographed in Christchurch. Source: 1 NEWS

2.14pm: Nelson Muslim community member Aqeela Mowjood said during a vigil held in Nelson today, ""Would I be a target of hate crime because of this scarf? ... Fortunately, when I see my Kiwi sisters wearing their headscarves, my fear dissolves."

Churches across New Zealand held special services this morning to "pray for the nation" and to "bring people together" in the aftermath of the attack.  Arise pastor John Cameron from a church in Christchurch said a lot of his congregation know the missing or deceased of the Christchurch terror attacks.  He said he wanted to hold a special service to help people process.

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Pastor John Cameron says a lot of his congregation know the missing or deceased of the Christchurch attack. Source: 1 NEWS

1.15pm: There are 34 patients in Christchurch Hospital, two discharges late yesterday afternoon and another patient is expected to go home today. There are 12 patients currently in the intensive care unit in a critical condition, according to Christchurch Hospital head of surgery Greg Robertson in a press conference recently.

12.15pm: Nelson filling out Trafalgar Square for Christchurch vigil.

Nelson filling out Trafalgar Square for Christchurch vigil. Source: 1 NEWS

Hundreds gather for Christchurch vigil in Nelson. Source: 1 NEWS

11.35am: Air New Zealand has capped one-way domestic fares for flights directly to and from Christchurch at $139 to assist customers needing to travel there to support those affected by the shooting.

11.30am: Tonight's Wellington vigil will now be held at the Basin Reserve, not Civic Square at 6pm.  There will be free on-street parking in the CBD from 4pm today.

11.25am: The search of a property in Somerville Street, Dunedin, has now completed.  A number of items of interest were located however no items that would present harm to members of the public were discovered, according to police.

Those nearby residents who were evacuated overnight have been able to return to their homes.

A police scene guard will remain in place at the property.

11.20am: Police say they are currently working to identify the injured and deceased victims of the attack.

11.15am: According to a police statement, mosques are welcome to open their doors if they choose to do so. Police will continue to maintain a presence at all mosques across New Zealand.

11.00am: Over 47,000 people have donated to the Givealittle fund set up for the families affected by the Christchurch twin terror attacks, souring past $3 million.

The Givealittle fund raiser began on March 15 and has since raised $3,223,825.71.

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The number of injured is at 50, 36 of those remain in hospital. Source: 1 NEWS

10.15am: Police are looking into reports of a drone flying around the Hagley Park area in Christchurch.  For the safety of the community, any locals who may be operating this drone are advised to cease this immediately. Drone activity can affect helicopters responding to any emergencies revolving around the Christchurch terror attack. A reminder to the public that there is a no fly zone in place.

10.05am: "The two police officers [that made the arrest] acted with absolute courage and I am so proud of what they have done, they have prevented further deaths and risked their own lives to do so," says Police Commissioner Mike Bush.

10.00am: Mr Bush says the Australian citizen charged with murder obtained a New Zealand firearms licence in 2017.

9.55am: Security around mosques will continue until there is no threat, police say.

9.45am: The 28-year-old charged with murder appeared in court yesterday and has been remanded until April 5 to appear in the High Court, according to police.  Two others were also in custody, one woman has been released without charge and a man has been charged with firearms offences.  At this stage police do not believe either of them were involved in the attacks.

9.35am: Police Commissioner Mike Bush says death toll has been revised to 50.  The number of injured is also 50, 36 of those remain in Christchurch Hospital, 2 remain critical and one child in Starship Hospital.  Read full story here.

8.30am: Aziz, 48, is being hailed as a hero for preventing more deaths during Friday prayers at the Linwood mosque in Christchurch after leading the gunman in a cat-and-mouse chase before scaring him into speeding away in his car.

When the gunman advanced toward the mosque, killing those in his path, Abdul Aziz didn't hide. Instead, he picked up the first thing he could find, a credit card machine, and ran outside screaming "Come here!"

But Aziz, whose four sons and dozens of others remained in the mosque while he faced off with the gunman, said he thinks it's what anyone would have done.  Read full story here.

8.00am: A UN anti racism day march makes a stop outside New Zealand house to lay flowers.

7.45am: Australia are paying their respects too.

7:30am: Over 42,000 people have donated to the Givealittle fund set up for the families affected by the Christchurch twin terror attacks, reaching a close $3 million.

The Givealittle fund raiser began on March 15 and has since raised $2,825,128.

7.15am: The Bangladesh national cricket team have returned home.  Captain Mahmud Ullah spoke to media and thanked New Zealand authorities for arranging their safety and quick return.  

The team was scheduled to play the third and final test against New Zealand from Saturday.  Some members of the team escaped the attack as they arrived a few minutes late at Al Noor mosque for prayers.  

7.00am: Last night hundreds of people gathered on the beach at Mount Maunganui as vigils continued for the victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks.  Parents held children on their shoulders, fathers wiped away tears and there were candles and singing - but also anger.

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Tears, hugs and prayers as families young and old lay flowers and candles down for the victims at a vigil last night. Source: 1 NEWS

Hundreds gather on the beach at Mount Maunganui at sunset for a vigil for the victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks. Source: 1 NEWS

Families lay out candles and flowers in Tauranga for the victims of the Christchurch terrorist attack. Source: 1 NEWS

Moving vigils were also held at Tamatekapua in Rotorua and at Hamilton's Claudelands Park.  With more vigils set to continue today.

What we know so far:

49 people are confirmed dead in the shooting which took place at two mosques in Christchurch on Friday. Four of the 49 killed died on en route to hospital and one died in hospital.

Thirty-six remain in hospital with 11 people in ICU and 1 child transferred to Starship hospital.