March 16, 2019 13:02:11
New Zealand will begin to bury its dead today, a day after at least one gunman attacked worshippers in two Christchurch mosques, killing 49 and injuring 42 others.
- Hundreds lay flowers at memorials across the city
- Relatives recount the shock at discovering their loved ones had been killed
- The city is preparing for the many funerals to be held in coming days
Dozens of people laid flowers at cordons near both mosques, while hundreds more gathered at an official area set up for people to pay their respects in the city’s botanic gardens near the hospital where dozens of people are being treated for injuries.
On a bunch of pink lilies one family had written a card to “our Muslim brothers and sisters. We are outraged, we grieve with you, we are standing by you”.
Christchurch resident Jo Paul brought her children to the memorial.
“I believe coming [to the memorial] is a way to show our support for the community, but also for our Muslim brothers and sisters, I also think it’s really important to show our children how hate crimes affect our society,” she said.
Funerals were planned on Saturday for some of the victims, several who were born overseas.
Relatives of one of those killed went to the Christchurch court where Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant appeared this morning in the hopes of getting “a look at his face”.
Yama Nabi said his father Haji Daoud, who came to New Zealand from Afghanistan in 1977, was killed at the Al Noor mosque.
He was going to the mosque himself but was running 10 minutes late.
He said when he arrived he found police and made his way past a cordon.
“I was running and there was a guy [who] said there was a shooting in the mosque so I was running, while I was running there was a lady being shot,” he said.
“Her sister was shot on the footpath, on the driveway, and a little kid as well.
“My daughter rang my mum [and] said Dad didn’t make it.”
Mr Nabi said he came to the Christchurch Law Courts where Mr Tarrant appeared “to have a look, a look at his face”.
His brother Omar Nabi also spoke to media outside the court.
“My father will be buried. I’d like to take him back to Afghanistan, this is his homeland,” Omar Nabi said.
He said he never would have expected anything like this could happen in Christchurch.
“Not at all, this is New Zealand man, multicultural you know. There’s not many words that I can put to what has happened here because it’s so calm and relaxed,” he said.
‘Please pray for me and my daughter’
Wasseim Alsati posted a video to Facebook from his hospital bed saying he was in a lot of pain after being shot three times.
“Please pray for me and for my daughter. Hopefully she will be so much better,” he said.
“It’s been a pleasure to know you all guys. Thank you for all the support and all the help you have given me so far. God bless you all.”
A man who could not find out information about what happened to his father and two brothers pushed through police barricades at one of the cordons in an effort to get closer.
A police officer stopped Ash Mohammed, who told the officer “we just wants to know if they are dead or alive”.
Mr Mohammed said he had repeatedly called mobile phones for his relatives, but the calls went unanswered and then the phones appeared to have run out of battery power.
He said he had not heard from his father and brother since yesterday, when they went to the mosque.
Mr Mohammed said he had planned to join them for prayers but did not because an appointment had run late.
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said graves were being dug as city officials worked closely with the community on the specific requirements of a large number of Muslim funerals.
“Today our focus is very much on providing practical support to families. There is a lot for them to be going through and our hearts are with them,” Ms Dalziel said.
“We want to work together with those communities to make sure that we do this appropriately … and give them the time and the space that they need to deal with the immediate issues at hand.
“We will find a time and a place for us to come together and to share that sense of grief and loss, but also that sense of love and compassion and support.”
March 16, 2019 12:36:35