The 49 victims of the mosque attacks in New Zealand included men, women and children, it emerged yesterday, with many of them refugees, seeking sanctuary at the foot of the world.
Children including a three-year-old boy and a young teenager are among those feared dead in the far-right terrorist atrocity.
Suspect Brenton Harrison Tarrant appeared in court yesterday morning charged with just one murder but many other charges are expected.
The gunman live-streamed on social media 17 minutes of his attacks at Al Noor Mosque in central Christchurch before driving to a second mosque in the city’s Linwood Avenue where he shot dead a further eight victims.
At least 48 people were wounded in the two attacks, some critically.
Police also defused explosive devices in a car.
The first victims were confirmed as Haji Daud Nabi, 71, Naeem Rashid and his son Talha, 21.
Mr Rashid, a teacher, had tried to pry the gun from the grip of Tarrant.
Two of Mr Nabi’s sons Omar, 43, and Yama, 45, appeared outside Christchurch District Court yesterday where they shared photos and stories of their father.
Omar said his dad – a father-of-five and a retired engineer – was one of the first Muslims in New Zealand, moving to Christchurch in 1977 from Afghanistan, and opening the Tuam Street mosque after discovering the country was a “slice of paradise”.
Atta Elayyan, the goalkeeper for the national and Canterbury men’s futsal teams – an indoor version of five-a-side football – was also confirmed killed, as was retired engineer Ali Elmadani, 66, who was born in Palestine.
Others thought to be dead include Abdul Hamid who was born in Indonesia and Khaled Haj Musatafa, a refugee from Syria and Ashraf Ali, originally from Fiji.
Husna Ara Parvin, from Bangladesh, was gunned down and killed as she tried to save her quadriplegic husband.
Osama Adnan, 37, originally from Egypt, has also been reported missing and is presumed dead.
There are fears, too, that a number of children who had accompanied their fathers to Friday prayers were killed when the gunman opened fire.
Among them is three-year-old Mucad Ibrahim, who was last seen at the mosque with his father and brother Abdi.
A family friend said the toddler “died in his father’s arms”. His brother survived by playing dead.
Keen footballer Sayyad Milne, 14, is thought to be among the dead.
A four-year-old girl who had been transferred to an Auckland hospital was also in critical condition and 11 patients who remained in Christchurch were also critically wounded.
At the Al Noor mosque, witness Len Peneha said he saw a man dressed in black and wearing a helmet with a device on top enter the house of worship and then heard dozens of shots, followed by people running out in terror.
Mr Peneha, who lives next door, said the gunman ran out of the mosque, dropped what appeared to be a semi-automatic weapon in his driveway and fled.
Mr Peneha then went into the mosque to help the victims. “I saw dead people everywhere,” he said. “I don’t understand how anyone could do this to these people, to anyone.”
Christchurch Hospital chief Greg Robertson said yesterday that seven of the 48 gunshot victims admitted after the shootings had been discharged.
“We have had patients with injuries to most parts of the body that range from relatively superficial soft tissue injuries to more complex injuries involving the chest, the abdomen, the pelvis, the long bones and the head,” he said.
A two-year-old boy was in a stable condition, as was a 13-year-old boy.
Tarrant’s relatives in the Australian town of Grafton, New South Wales, contacted police after learning of the shooting and were helping with the investigation, local authorities said.
He has spent little time in Australia in the past four years and only had minor traffic infractions on his record.
In the aftermath, New Zealand’s threat level was raised from low to high. Police warned Muslims against going to a mosque anywhere in the country, and the national airline cancelled several flights in and out of Christchurch, a city of nearly 400,000.
A Scots aid worker in Christchurch told of the city’s “bewilderment and trauma”.
New Zealand Red Cross disaster recovery manager Michael Donoghue, originally from Edinburgh, moved to the country in 2004.
He had previously been involved in recovery efforts in the city when an earthquake killed 185 people in 2011.
Yesterday the 41-year-old led teams of Red Cross volunteers comforting more than 200 people affected by the shootings who had come to Christchurch Hospital seeking help.
“So many turned up that we had to move our base to a nearby college,” he said. “We were dealing with people who had been in the mosques when the shootings happened and had somehow managed to escape, and also with friends and families looking for loved ones.
“People were visibly shaken. They were traumatised and were not making any sense.
“There was an overwhelming sense of disbelief and bewilderment at how something like this could have happened in New Zealand.”
World leaders condemned the violence and offered condolences, with US President Donald Trump tweeting: “We stand in solidarity with New Zealand.”
New Zealand, with a population of five million, has relatively loose gun laws and 1.5 million firearms – roughly one for every three people. But it has one of the lowest gun homicide rates in the world. In 2015, it had just eight gun homicides.
At the White House, Mr Trump called the bloodshed “a terrible thing” but rejected any suggestion the white nationalist movement is a rising threat around the world, saying it is “a small group of people that have very, very serious problems”.
Speaking before he watched the Wales vs Ireland Six Nations rugby match in Cardiff yesterday, the Duke of Cambridge said “our hearts and thoughts” are with the people of New Zealand and described the attack as “senseless”.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visited a mosque in Glasgow on Friday afternoon and a vigil took place in the city centre later.
In a tweet, she said Muslims are a “valued part of our diverse and multicultural society”.
Ms Sturgeon wrote: “This is beyond awful. Innocent people being murdered as they worship is horrific and heartbreaking.”