The day of the terror in New Zealand, which has claimed at least 49 innocent lives so far, may have passed, but its devastating impact will linger on, maybe forever, in the minds of those directly affected
The 28-year-old terrorist who ambushed the mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, during Friday's prayers, killing at least 49 people and leaving an additional 48 injured, has been charged with murder and has been remanded in custody till 5 April.
While the terrorist will meet his fate, he leaves behind his victims, picking pieces of their lives, their lost loved ones, trying to come to terms with the terror they witnessed.
"I don't know who of my friends is dead or alive now. I am waiting. Police told me: 'I am sorry, this is the first time this has ever happened in this country,'" a man named Hassan told the Guardian. He was worshipping at Linwood mosque during the attack.
While details about victims are still sketchy, there were at least five Malaysian victims of the terrorist attack yesterday with some injured
Among those is a 14-year-old Malaysian boy, who was at the Al Noor Mosque.
He was there to perform Friday prayers, but instead of praying inside the mosque, as usual, he decided to sit in the back rows of the congregation, reported Bernama.
While waiting for the prayers to begin, the boy, Idris Khairudin, suddenly heard gunshots and sounds of glass breaking as well as calls for pilgrims to run.
Idris hurried out the building and climbed over the walls of the mosque and ran nearly 1.5km to escape the scene of the terror attack, according to his 20-year-old sister, Nur Balqis Khairudin, whom he had contacted to ask what he should do next.
"I was in a state of panic and worried about him. At that time, I and another sister of mine, Nur Zahirah were at home, and we had no transport. I had to ask help from the public to drop us to college so that we could get Idris. We then brought him home and called mother," Bernama quoted Nur Balqis as saying, who along with her two siblings are now safe at their home, which is located about 3km from the scene.
When they reached out to their mother, Zarita Abdul Razak in Nibong Tebal, Penang, with a WhatsApp message, asking: "Ma, can I call you?", she was restless.
"Only God who knows how I felt at the time, my three children were there while we were here. I went weak at the knees. Thankfully, they are safe. But we are still worried and sad to find out that there are Malaysians who have been injured," the mother said.
Another Malaysian, Rahimi Ahmad, a 39-year-old Penangite, who was at Masjid Al Noor for Friday prayers, as he has usually been doing for the past five years with his family, was shot while escaping
The Friday turned out to be "one of New Zealand's darkest days".
The 39-year-old Rahimi left his son outside and entered the mosque to offer prayers. His son was playing outside when shots were heard in the mosque.
"My son was playing outside when the shooting started after which a friend just grabbed him and took him to a Kiwi's house next to the mosque," his wife Azila said.
She would later find out that her husband has been shot and was among the wounded taken to the hospital. Rahimi is in a critical condition, as doctors are trying to remove several bullets from his body, according to a Reuters report.
Rahimi had tried to escape when deafening gunfire shattered the silence. He was shot, and fell to the floor, bleeding from his wounds. "While injured, he acted as if he was dead," a friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, told NST Online.
Meanwhile, in Malaysia, Rahimi's mother, Rokiah Mohammad, recounted, in between tears, the moment she found out it was the same mosque her son goes to.
"When I heard about the mass shooting, I tried calling my daughter-in-law but I could not contact her and I was so worried because he goes to a mosque near his house which looked like the mosque in the news," she told Malay Mail.
The 65-year-old mother was sure her son would be there for Friday prayers and became very worried when she couldn't get any information on what had happened.
Meanwhile, the condition of a 42-year-old Malaysian, Mohd Tarmizi Shuib, who was shot while he was praying, is still being treated and is expected to undergo an operation today to remove the bullet
"Our family was shocked when we were told he had been shot in the incident, and that one of his children is still missing. We hope he will be okay after his wife told us that he would undergo another operation today," Tarmizi's sister Mariani told NST Online.
While Tarmimi is still alive and his condition is stable, his son Mohd Haziq, 17, was yet to be found after running away during the terror attack.
"I looked into the mosque and saw bodies piled up in the main hall," Hamzah Noor Yahaya, another Malaysian survivor, recounted
Below, Hamzah is seen standing in front of Christchurch Hospital at the end of a lockdown on 15 March, while waiting to be picked up by his wife.
Hamzah, who lives about 6km away from the Al Noor Mosque, is a regular worshipper there. He moved to Christchurch from Tanjung Karang, Selangor, in the 1980s, and works as a forklift driver.
"Many people were mingling before going for prayers.
"The main prayer hall usually fits about 400 people. I seated myself right in front of the pulpit and the sermon had just begun. When I heard the shots, it was the shooter aiming at the people in the rooms. The main prayer hall was at the end of the mosque and the walkway leading to it had many rooms on either side," he was quoted as saying by The Star Online, adding that it took him just "two seconds" to realise what had happened.
Hamzaj, who is still traumatised by the attack, said that while he was walking outside, "I saw two dead bodies. I looked into the mosque and saw bodies piled up in the main hall. At the front of the mosque, there were four or five dead bodies. Two more dead bodies were on the street in front of the mosque," according to The Star Online.
Meanwhile, following the terror attack, Australian senator Fraser Anning released a statement saying "While Muslims may have been the victims today, usually they are the perpetrators":