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  1. ITV Report

New Zealand mosque massacre death toll rises to 50

Mourners pay their respects at a makeshift memorial near the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch Photo: AP Photo/Vincent Yu

The death toll from the New Zealand mosque attacks has risen to 50, authorities said.

A further 50 people suffered injuries in the mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch during midday prayers on Friday, New Zealand police commissioner Mike Bush said.

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Thirty-four victims remain in Christchurch Hospital, with 12 of them in intensive care.

A four-year-old girl taken to Starship Hospital in Auckland remains in a critical condition, New Zealand Police said.

At a press conference on Sunday morning New Zealand time, Mr Bush said: “It is with sadness that I advise that the number of people who have died in this awful event has now risen to 50.

“As of last night we were able to take all of the victims from both of those scenes and in doing so we have located a further victim.”

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Brenton Tarrant, 28, from Australia, appeared in court on Saturday charged with one count of murder and was remanded until April 5. Police said further charges will follow.

He appeared to have live-streamed the terror attack and outlined his anti-immigrant motives in a manifesto posted online.

A search of a property on Somerville Street in Dunedin was completed with a “number of items of interest” found but none that “would present harm to members of the public were discovered”, New Zealand Police said.

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New Zealand Police also said two people arrested after the attacks are not believed to be involved – with one released and another charged with a separate offence.

The force said another person has been taken into custody “due to evidence collected during the investigation” but there “is no information to suggest” they are linked to the attacks.

Mr Bush said the shooter obtained a legitimate firearms licence in 2017 in New Zealand, adding that it was “quite obvious” the gunman had “modified a category A firearm”.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed to change the country’s gun laws in the wake of the shooting spree that stunned the world.

Ms Ardern said the “primary perpetrator” in the shootings had five guns and held a gun licence, adding: “I can tell you one thing right now – our gun laws will change.”

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The wounded four-year-old girl was named as Elin by her uncle Sabri Daraghmeh, who told reporters in a phone call from Jordan on Saturday that she was “in the danger phase”.

Her father Waseem, 33, the brother of Mr Daraghmeh, is said to be in a stable condition.

The Jordanian citizen of Palestinian origin is reported to have moved to New Zealand five years ago and described it as “the safest place one could ever live in”.

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The majority of the injured patients are male aged 30 to 40, while two of them are boys aged two and 13, said Greg Robertson, chief of surgery at Christchurch Hospital.

The two-year-old boy was reported to be in stable condition, as was the 13-year-old.

“Twelve operating theatres worked through the night,” said Mr Robertson.

“Many of those injured will need multiple returns to surgery.”

Of those killed in the massacre, 41 died at the Masjid Al Noor mosque on Deans Avenue in central Christchurch, seven were killed at the suburban Linwood Masjid Mosque, and one person died at Christchurch Hospital.

The 50th victim was located at the mosque on Deans Avenue on Sunday morning, New Zealand Police said.

In the video live-streamed by Tarrant, a man inside a mosque appears to say: “Welcome brother”, as a gunman approaches.

A number of improvised explosive devices found on a vehicle after the shootings were defused by police.

Mr Bush, who had earlier called the attack a “very well-planned event”, said the suspect was not known to police either in New Zealand or Australia.

An injured man is taken to hospital Credit: AP

He said victims’ families would be supported by “a very large contingent of ethnic liaison officers working with religious leaders and other religious support people”.

He added: “There is so much outpouring of grief … and we have to support those people and meet their needs.”

Police will stand guard outside all mosques across New Zealand that choose to open their doors, the force said.

British security sources said there were no apparent UK links to the attack.

A 24-year-old man from Oldham, Greater Manchester, was arrested on Saturday after posting comments online supporting the slaughter, Greater Manchester Police said.