Thousands have paid tribute in makeshift memorials to the victims of the Christchurch mosque terrorist attack as families of the deceased wait for the bodies to be released for burial.
Hundreds of bouquets of flowers could be seen at Dean avenue, near one of the mosques, and the Christchurch Botanical Gardens.
“New Zealand is their home. They are us,” read one tribute that echoed earlier comments by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. “This is not NZ,” read another.
Staff and students at Orewa College in North Auckland paid tribute by forming a heart and spelling the Māori phrase ‘Kia Kaha’ (‘stay strong’) on the sports field.
— Orewa College (@OrewaCollegeNZ) March 18, 2019
Relatives are still waiting for the bodies to be released by authorities following the deadliest massacre in New Zealand history. According to Islamic tradition, the dead are supposed to be cleansed and buried as soon as possible.
Fifty people are dead and another 34 remain in hospital after a gunman opened fire on Muslim worshippers at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch on Friday.
Australian citizen Brenton Tarrant, 28, has been charged with murder in relation to the shootings. He appeared in court on Monday and will likely face more charges.
— Aqil Haziq Mahmud (@AqilHaziqCNA) March 16, 2019
Survivors of the attack recounted the horrors from Friday’s attack, and said they were grateful to be alive.
“Everybody is saying that we are the luckiest ones,” Amir Daud, who was in the car with his wife outside the mosque when the shooting began, told Reuters. “My friend Faisal is also lucky because when the shooter came into the mosque, he had just gone into the toilet and all the all the time he remained in the toilet and he is a survivor.”
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