Christchurch Terror Attack: Death Toll Climbs To 50 As Another Body Found In Mosque
The death toll from the terror attack on two mosques in Christchurch has climbed to 50, authorities have confirmed.
Police have retrieved the bodies of victims from two mosques in the city after a gunman opened fire during Friday prayers, as families and friends look to bury their loved ones.
New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said officers discovered another victim at the mosque on Deans Avenue, in central Christchurch, amid further examination of the crime scene on Saturday night.
"As of last night we were able to take all of the victims from both of those scenes. In doing so, we have located a further victim," Bush told reporters about 9:30am local time on Saturday.
Another 50 people were injured in the attack, with 36 of those being treated at Christchurch Hospital, twelve of whom are in a critical condition, Bush said.
A four-year-old girl is also fighting for her life in Auckland's Starship children's hospital.
On Saturday, Chief of Surgery at Christchurch Hospital Greg Robertson said 12 operating theatres were open throughout Friday night and that many victims would need to return for multiple surgeries before their release.
Four people were arrested following the attack, but only 28-year-old Australian man Brenton Tarrant, formerly from the NSW town of Grafton, has been charged with murder.
He did not apply for bail nor suppression of his name when he appeared in court on Saturday and was remanded in custody to reappear on April 5.
Of the three others who were arrested, Bush confirmed a woman has been released without charge and a man has been charged with firearm offences but said neither were believed to be involved with the attack.
An 18-year-old man will appear in court on Monday as a result of "tangential evidence".
"Only one person has been charged in relation to this attack. I won’t say anything conclusive until we are absolutely sure who was involved," Bush said.
Bush said a list of victims' names had been compiled "to give some certainty to victim's families", but stressed the formal identification process was ongoing.
He said police, pathologists and coroners are working quickly to release the bodies to families for burial.
"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. We are doing that as quickly and as sensitively as possible," he said.
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."
With AAP (also source of featured image).