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Live updates: At least 40 dead in Christchurch terror attack - Jacinda Ardern

Newshub logoNewshub 15/03/2019 Vita Molyneux, Rebecca Watson
© Phil Walter/Getty Images

Here is what we know: 

  • Forty people have been killed in Christchurch, according to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in what she describes as a "terrorist attack"
  • Forty-eight patients, including children, are being treated in Christchurch Hospital for gunshot wounds ranging from minor to critical
  • New Zealand's national security threat level has been lifted from low to high
  • Four people have been arrested, including one woman, after a series of simultaneous attacks across Christchurch
  • One of the shooters has been confirmed as an Australian citizen by Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison
  • The four individuals in custody were not on any watchlist
  • A mosque on Deans Ave and another on Linwood Ave have been confirmed as shooting sites. These sites remain locked down
  • Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were found attached to vehicles but they have since been disabled
  • Police said the public should not assume the incident is contained to Christchurch and people in other centres should be on alert

8.35pm - The Government has confirmed that this is the first time in New Zealand history terror level has been lifted from low to "high".

8.33pm - The suspect’s former boss, Tracey Grey, told Newshub she was shocked. “I am completely shocked, he never showed any extremist views or crazy behaviour. I have family in Christchurch and I am devastated for them." Two others in custody were known to the suspect.

8.17pm - Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison asks for all flags to be flown at half-mast out of respect for the dead.

8.13pm - Police Commissioner Mike Bush will address media at 9pm to provide an update on the shooting.

8.02pm - Helen Clark weighs in on the "unprecedented attack" in Christchurch, and offers her sympathies to the families.

7.46pm - Britomart in Auckland has been evacuated after bags were found unattended. It's believed bomb disposal units carried out controlled detonations.

7.34pm - Forty-eight patients, including children, are being treated in Christchurch Hospital for gunshot wounds. Canterbury District Health Board told Newshub the injuries range from minor to critical. Twelve operating theatres are currently in use with some patients needing multiple surgeries.

7.26pm - At least 40 people have been confirmed dead, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed.

7.24pm - The Human Rights Commission says the attacks are devastating. "Our hearts go out to the individuals, families and communities involved." "There is no place for hate in New Zealand. We urge Kiwis to stand together in unity."

7.20pm - A Dunedin street has reportedly been cordoned off with reports one of the Christchurch shooters originally planned to attack Al Huda Mosque.

7.07pm - An AR15 rifle is believed to have been used in the attack. It is the same type of rifle used in the Las Vegas shootings two years ago and at Sandy Hook. 

7.02pm - Sky City has cancelled the Federal St 'Get Your Green On' St Patrick's Day event in light of the attacks. Tonight, and for the rest of the weekend, the Sky Tower's lights will be turned off, to acknowledge the pain felt across New Zealand at this time.

6.56pm - The remainder of regional departures from Christchurch have been cancelled because it is not possible to screen customers and their baggage, Air NZ has tweeted.

6.54pm - Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has condemned the attack by an "extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist". He also confirmed one of the attackers was an Australian-born citizen.

6.48pm - Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson and Green MP Golriz Ghahraman have gone live on Facebook with a message of support for the people of Christchurch. "We are sending our absolute love to the Christchurch community, to our Muslim families, to our refugee and migrant communites. To everyone who cares," Davidson said.

6.45pm - Uber has been suspended in Christchurch.

6.39pm - Indonesia's foreign minister says the world's biggest Muslim-majority country strongly condemns the shootings and authorities are checking on whether any of its citizens are victims.

6.38pm - The lockdown at Christchurch Hospital is over. 

6.35pm - Two mosques at Deans Ave and Linwood Ave will remain locked down tonight, police say. Police commissioner Mike Bush confirms "a number of fatalities" and says the number is "significant". He said he would like to reassure members of the public that there is a large police presence in the city and the safety of the community is their priority.

6.32pm - The Ministry of Health says anyone needing mental health support after viewing video footage of the events in Christchurch can free call or text 1737.

6.10pm - Vodafone said it will provide free mobile calling for 24 hours to and from Christchurch.

6.06pm - A Malaysian is among those wounded during the shootings, Malaysia's High Commission in New Zealand says.

6.03pm - Newshub understands dozens of people are dead.

5.56pm - Police say schools across Christchurch are no longer in lockdown. "We would like to reassure members of the public that there is a large police presence in the city and the safety of the community is our priority."

5.50pm - Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy says the events have shocked all New Zealanders.

"Our hearts go out to the people of Christchurch, especially the people directly affected by this afternoon's terrible violence. Our thoughts are with them, their families and friends. "

"Now more than ever is the time to affirm the values that we hold dear - compassion, kindness and tolerance."

5.37pm - US police are stepping up patrols around mosques in the wake of the Christchurch attacks.

5.34pm - Police said the public should not assume the incident is contained to Christchurch and people in other centres should be on alert.

5.31pm - Four people are in custody, including one woman, Police-Commissioner Mike Bush told media.

There are multiple fatalities.

"At this point I cant say how many, but it is significant."

5.27pm - A witness told NZME a well known Muslim local chased the shooters at a second shooting at a mosque in Linwood.

He was heard telling police officers he was firing in "self defence".

5.24pm - Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says the shooting serves as "a lesson here from which we must all learn". He is calling it "an awfully, awfully sad day" for New Zealand.

5.10pm - Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez‏ and Donald Trump Jr have tweeted about the incident.

5.03pm - Facebook has activated its safety check for people in Christchurch to let friends and family know they're safe. 

5pm - Police say schools are still in lockdown and children are being taken care of by school staff.

"There is no timeframe at this stage for when the lock down will be lifted. Schools will communicate directly with parents when the lockdown is lifted."

4.58pm - Christchurch Airport is operating as normal.

4.55pm - Read more of our coverage here:

4.53pm - NZ Cricket has announced the rest of the Bangladesh cricket tour has been cancelled, after the team narrowly escaped the mosque shooting. They were scheduled to begin their third test against the Blackcaps at nearby Hagley Park on Saturday.

4.48pm - The Prime Minister has tweeted an emotional statement condeming the shooter.

"What has happened in Christchurch is an extraordinary act of unprecedented violence. It has no place in New Zealand. Many of those affected will be members of our migrant communities – New Zealand is their home – they are us."

4.37pm - Newshub political reporter Tova O'Brien says Newshub understands it is the highest death toll from a gun attack in recent New Zealand history.

4.29pm - The Prime Minister's spokesperson the emergency response system has been activated and all major agencies will meet with the Prime Minister in Parliament's bunker.

4.24pm - Air New Zealand is offering flexibility to its customers booked to travel to or from Christchurch today.

The airline will waive any change fees and difference in fare if a customer needs to make changes to travel booked for today.

4.19pm - Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has shared his condolences.

4.11pm - Jacinda Ardern has called today "one of New Zealand's darkest days".

"The person who has perpetuated this violence is not one of us."

"This is an act that has absolutely no place in New Zealand. This is not who we are."

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4.04pm - One person is in custody, however, police believe there may be other offenders. Police have confirmed there have been a number of fatalities and they are at a number of scenes. 

"We understand that there will be many anxious people but I can assure New Zealanders that Police is doing all it can to resolve this incident," police said in a statement.

"We urge New Zealanders to stay vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour immediately to 111.

"We are mobilising resources nationally and support is being brought into the District.

"We are still working to resolve this incident and we continue to urge Christchurch resident to stay inside.

"We ask all mosques nationally to shut their doors, and advise that people refrain from visiting these premises until further notice."

3.59pm - Around 300 people were reportedly inside the mosque for Friday prayers.

3.27pm - An armed guard at Christchurch Hospital has told Newshub he hasn’t heard of any shooting there. The hospital remains in lockdown.

3.50pm - Newshub has been told from a source many people are dead.

3.45pm - The Guardian reports the shooting is ongoing.

"More shots have been fired in the last five minutes, according to police sources."

3.40pm - Newshub political editor Tova O'Brien says police have confirmed it was a multiple, simultaneous attack.

3.37pm - Footage from the area shows people in distress.

a person holding a sign © Provided by MediaWorks NZ Limited

3.33pm - The Guardian is reporting there is a bomb in a car on Strickland St. Their reporter in Christchurch was told by two police officers the bomb is inside a beige Subaru that has crashed three kilometres from where the shootings took place.

There is a cordon in place around the car.

3:26pm - Police have tweeted another update on the situation.

© Provided by MediaWorks NZ Limited

3.24pm - The Prime Minister is set to hold a stand up at 4pm

3:21pm - Christchurch City Council is locking down its central city buildings.

3:16pm Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said police are actively getting the matter under control.

"The message that I really want to get out is please stay away from the central city until further notice."

"All council buildings in the central city are in lockdown and the police are requesting all central city building owners to do the same."

"We are looking after some of the students who were on the climate rally today. They are safe here and we will keep them here until advised by the police that they can leave."

"I would have never have expected anything like this would have happened in Christchurch, I would have never like this to happen in New Zealand."

"It is a shock but I think it is really important that people stay calm, they stay away from the central city and to remind people who are in central city building, you are safer inside the buildings than you are out."

3.12pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has cancelled all her afternoon engagements.

3.03pm - Politicians are tweeting their shock. 

2.54pm - A caller has told Newshub: "My uncle just told me… he was the last person to get out of the mosque, and he told me his shirt is full of blood. He isn't injured but he has seen many people lying on the ground and is saying so many would have died."

2.52pm - Christchurch Hospital and Outpatients is in lock-down. The public should not attend Christchurch Hospital unless it’s an emergency.

2.47pm - Reports of six people dead, three critical and three serious. Shootings are thought to have happened at two separate mosques.

2.42pm- All schools in Christchurch have been placed into lockdown. Reports of six people dead.

2.35pm- A witness has told Newshub they heard gunshots and tried to give CPR to a person, but they died.

1.40pm - Police are attending an "evolving incident" near a mosque in Christchurch.

Armed police have been deployed, after reports of shots fired in central Christchurch at 1.40pm.

They are urging anyone in central Christchurch to stay indoors and report any suspicious activity.

Christchurch Girls School is in lockdown in response to the armed attacker.

"I could hear a whole bunch of popping, I thought it was fireworks," said Christchurch resident Alex Hill.

"Someone said they counted 29 [shots,]" he told Newshub.

Another man told Magic Talk he saw people running out of the mosque, and that he had seen a man in military gear with a high powered gun.

"I heard what I thought was a real loud backfire of a car," the man told Magic Talk.

"And the next minute I turned to my right and just saw people running out of the mosque, and obviously just a couple of more shots and a lady fell over and then a guy in full military gear with what looked like a really high powered gun pointing down the road firing"

"Full camo gear and he didn't look like he had a care in the world"

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