New Zealanders flocked to pay tribute on Sunday to the 50 worshippers slain in a twin mosque attack, as families clamoured for the return of their dead.
Coroners said they hoped to let grieving relatives fulfil Islamic burial customs soon, but insisted they had to move carefully through their investigation into the horrific multiple murder.
As New Zealand grappled to come to terms with the slaughter — the worst attack on Muslims in a Western country — tales of heroism, suffering and incredible grace began to emerge.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her office and some 30 other officials had received attacker Brenton Tarrant’s lengthy, meandering “manifesto” by email about nine minutes before the attack. “It did not include a location, it did not include specific details,” she said, adding that it was sent to security services within two minutes of receipt.
The country remained on high alert on Sunday, with police closing an airport in the southern city of Dunedin — where Tarrant had lived — after an unidentified package was spotted on the airfield. The dead from Friday’s attack span generations, aged between three and 77, according to a sombre list circulated among relatives.
Some victims came from the neighbourhood, others from as far afield as Egypt or Fiji. At least two of the dead — a father and son — came from the same family.
Healing touch: New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern consoling a woman at Kilbirnie mosque, Christchurch, on Sunday; below, a sketch outside the Masjid Al Noor.
Authorities said 34 people remained in hospital.
On Monday Ms. Ardern — who spent Sunday morning with the Muslim community of Wellington — will gather her Cabinet to discuss changing the country’s gun laws.
That could include a ban on semi-automatic weapons of the type used by Tarrant.
Ms. Ardern also wants answers from social media giants over the livestreaming of the carnage.
Facebook said it had removed 1.5 million videos of the attack around the world in the first 24 hours.