Mourners rush to graveside ceremonies as more mosque victims buried

Christchurch: More families are beginning the painful process of burying the dead in Christchurch as the community has gathered to farewell the first victims of the mosque terror attack.

A woman gets some water after being overcome during the funerals.Credit:Jason South

Thirty bodies had been formally identified by Wednesday afternoon and could be returned shortly, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said as the first victims were laid to rest.

Zahid Mustafa, 13, in a wheelchair recovering from a gunshot wound to his leg, tried to stand for prayers as his father Khaled and older brother Hamza, 15, became the first buried.

Within hours another four victims were buried.

So rapid in succession were the burials, some mourners paying respects to one person had to run from the burial plots to a marquee across the lawn in time to pray for the next.

The funeral for one of 50 victims of the mosque shootings at Memorial Park Cemetery in Christchurch.Credit:Jason South

As the one week anniversary of the shooting approaches on Friday, families have become frustrated with the delays in having the dead returned for a swift burial in line with Islamic custom.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush expected most of the 50 victims would be formally identified by late Wednesday, with experts from New Zealand and Australia working hard to ensure the process is done quickly but correctly.

"I have to say some of those victims will take a little longer," he said.

Mass burials could happen on Thursday or Friday.

Some victims will be expatriated to their home countries.

A funeral will be held in Auckland on Thursday for Haji Hafiz Musa Patel, a father of five who was visiting Christchurch with his wife.

Another 50 people were injured in the shootings during Friday prayers, including 29 who remain in hospital, eight in critical conditions.

Ms Ardern announced two minutes of silence would be held to mark Friday's one- week anniversary, as many in the Muslim community return to their mosques.

She's also taking seriously a reported call from Islamic State to retaliate, after the jihad group's spokesman was reported in the New York Times as saying the attack should incite caliphate supporters to "avenge their religion".

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, was charged with one count of murder on Saturday in relation to the shootings.

He's likely to face further charges.

Meanwhile a diplomatic row has erupted with Turkey, prompting warnings ahead of Anzac Day.

The country's president warned any Australian who came to his country with anti- Muslim views would be sent back in a coffin "like your grandfathers were" during the Gallipoli campaign.

It prompted offence from both sides of the Tasman, and New Zealand's deputy prime minister Winston Peters is expected to address the remarks when he visits Turkey for an Organisation of Islamic Co-operation meeting next week.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the comments "highly reckless".


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