Death toll from NZ terror attack rises to 50

A third man – aged 18 – has also been charged, but is not believed to have been directly involved in the attacks.

“What I can say is that an 18-year- old man will appear in court on Monday but that arrest was tangential to this matter and we do not believe that he was involved in this attack either,” Mr Bush said.

A fourth person taken into custody has since been released.

Another victim found

Mr Bush revealed on Sunday that a 50th victim had been found, while 50 people had been wounded in the shootings sprees at the the Al Noor mosque on Deans Avenue and Linwood mosque six kilometres away during Friday prayers.

Of the 50 wounded, 36 remain in hospital with 11 in a critical condition. A four-year-old girl is also fighting for her life in Auckland’s Starship children’s hospital.

“As of last night, we were able to take all of the victims from both of those scenes and in doing so, we have located a further victim,” NZ Police Commissioner Mike Bush told reporters on Sunday.

“It’s difficult to be conclusive, but my understanding is that even those that were killed outside that mosque were visiting the mosque.”

Muslim community members have raised concerns that the time taken to remove the bodies from the mosques would comprise the burial process.

Mr Bush said police, pathologists and coroners were working to ensure families could claim their loved ones as soon as possible.

“We have to be absolutely clear on cause of death and confirm their identity before that can happen,” he said.

“But we are so aware of the cultural and religious needs. So we are doing that as quickly and sensitively as possible.”

A young girl at Hagley College where relatives of the victims have gathered. Jason South

Mr Bush said police would not release a list of the victims until they had been formally identified.

Christchurch Hospital on Saturday said most of the victims were men aged between 30 and 60, but children and women were also involved.

Police say they will continue guarding mosques around the country until further notice. Helicopters have been hovering overhead in Christchurch since, while heavily-armed officers patrol streets.

‘This is not New Zealand’

Former NSW personal trainer Tarrant did not apply for bail when he appeared in court on Saturday and was remanded in custody without plea until April 5.

“There is one charge of murder brought at the moment, it is reasonable to assume that there will be others,” the presiding judge noted.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern, who is expected to address the media again on Sunday in Wellington, held a series of meetings in Christchurch on Saturday to assure the Muslim community their safety was top priority.

“This is not New Zealand,” she told a group at the city’s refugee centre.

“This act of terror was brought to our shores and rained down upon us.”

Questions have been raised about why Tarrant had appeared on a watchlist of New Zealand or Australian security agencies.

Ardern, meanwhile, also vowed New Zealand would be changing its gun laws, after it was discovered Tarrant was licensed and had five guns, some modified.

A series of vigils have now been scheduled around the country, while flowers were being left at cordons near the attack sites in Christchurch.

“If this evil thinks we will stop going to our mosque here or stop doing our worship to our god, Allah, we cannot ever stop,” Linwood mosque Imam Ibrahim Abdelhalim said.

AAP

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