Death toll in shootout at Christchurch mosques rises to 50
Christchurch: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, quoting the Police Commissioner, said in a statement Sunday that 50 people have been killed and 34 people remain in Christchurch Hospital – 12 of them in the intensive care unit in critical condition.
A four-year-old girl remains in a critical condition at Starship Hospital in Auckland, the NZ PM said confirming that the bodies of those who have died are beginning to be returned to their families from this evening. It is likely, however, to be a small number to begin with.
The New Zealand PM said:
“In amongst all of the ongoing issues, the operation to bring to justice the person involved, to secure the safety of our communities, lies a list of people who were potentially the victims of this terrorist attack.
They were loved ones and they were New Zealanders.
Many of you will know that today (Sunday) I went to Kilbirnie Mosque to lay flowers with Wellington Mayor Justin Lester and to meet with Islamic community leaders.
Their message was one of gratitude for the outpouring of love that they had experienced from the people of Wellington. And an acknowledgement of the grief that the community feels.
To help ensure this happens as quickly as possible, we are receiving support from six Disaster Victim Identification staff from Australia.
The 28-year-old man charged with murder has been remanded in custody until April 5th and police say he will face further charges.
He is being held in a specialist security facility.
Police have confirmed that there is no indication that two other people arrested on Friday were connected with the attacks.
They have however confirmed that another person has been taken into custody as a result of evidence collected during the investigation, but there is no information to suggest that person is linked to the attacks. As the Police Commissioner has said, this is tangential to the attack on Friday.
Public safety remains the top priority for the Police – both in Christchurch and across the country.
The Police Commissioner will be issuing further advice as people look to return to work and school tomorrow. Needless to say there will be an increased police presence in Christchurch tomorrow to ensure public safety.
There are an additional 120 police staff are in Christchurch.
When it comes to mosques, during opening hours and while mosques are in active use, there will be a police presence outside. While they are closed the Police will remain in the vicinity. This will continue to be assessed while the police investigation continues.
We know these events have been traumatic for the community, but particularly for young people.
Today, local Ministry of Education staff met with senior staff at Hagley Community College and Burnside Primary School to provide support and resources. A team will be at Cashmere High School in the morning.
The Ministry is also gathering information to assess immediate trauma support needs at schools and early learning centres across the city. Support is already being provided to some schools and this will be expanded tomorrow morning.
The Christchurch office is responding to calls as they come in and a team of 200 staff is being mobilised, with specialist staff from other regions on site or on their way.
For the rest of the country, all schools and early learning centres have now received communications advising them of available support.
All regions have put Traumatic Incident trained staff on standby to provide support tomorrow.
The Ministry is also working closely with the Police and Red Cross to support the refugee community.
I also want to acknowledge in terms of wider advice for instance via parents who may wish to seek advice on communicating with their children, the Ministry of Health is making advice publicly available on their website.
I also reinforce the 1737 number remains open for text or phone-calls for anyone who may wish to seek further support, particularly mental health support at this time.”