Members of the Bangladeshi cricket team have escaped a shooting at a mosque near Hagley Oval in Christchurch that claimed at least 40 lives and reportedly injured up to 40 more.
New Zealand media reports a gunman opened fire inside the mosque on Friday afternoon.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said a total of 40 people have lost their lives, 10 died at theLinwood Masjid mosque and a further 30 have been killed at the Masjid Al Noor mosque.
“There are also more than 20 seriously injured who are currently in Christchurch A&E,” Ms Ardern said.
“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack.”
ESPNcricinfo journalist Mohammad Isam reports Bangladesh’s Test cricketers were about to enter the mosque for a prayer session.
“Several minutes after they were barred from getting off the bus, the players escaped and ran through Hagley Park,” Isam wrote.
Marco Villavarayena, the team’s strength and conditioning coach, earlier told the NZ Herald: “The players are shaken up but fine.”
“I spoke to one of them shortly after [the incident].
“They didn’t see anything but heard gunshots. They were at the ground and just started running.
“The coaching staff were all at the hotel. The players just started running when they heard the shots.
“I don’t know how many [gunshots] there were. This happened at about 1.45pm.”
Bangladesh batsmen Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim, as well as the team’s performance analyst Shrinivas Chandrasekaram, had tweeted upon their arrival at the nearby Hagley Oval:
Entire team got saved from active shooters!!! Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers #christchurchMosqueAttack
— Tamim Iqbal Khan (@TamimOfficial28) March 15, 2019
Alhamdulillah Allah save us today while shooting in Christchurch in the mosque…we r extremely lucky…never want to see this things happen again….pray for us
— Mushfiqur Rahim (@mushfiqur15) March 15, 2019
Just escaped active shooters!!! Heartbeats pumping badly and panic everywhere!! #ChristchurchMosque
— Shrinivas (@chinu1501) March 15, 2019
Isam was with the team as they escaped through Hagley Park towards the cricket ground.
Amid the chaos, the players reportedly told locals walking towards the mosque to turn around and avoid the scene.
Bangladesh team escaped from a mosque near Hagley Park where there were active shooters. They ran back through Hagley Park back to the Oval. pic.twitter.com/VtkqSrljjV
— Mohammad Isam (@Isam84) March 15, 2019
Bangladesh and New Zealand are scheduled to begin the third and final Test at Hagley Oval on Saturday.
The players made their way to the dressing rooms at the ground, where they were in lockdown while discussions took place between Bangladesh and New Zealand cricket officials.
The Bangladesh Cricket Board has since confirmed all players have returned safely back to the team hotel:
All members of the Bangladesh Cricket Team in Christchurch, New Zealand are safely back in the hotel following the incident of shooting in the city. The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) is in constant contact with the players and team management.#christchurchMosqueAttack
— Bangladesh Cricket (@BCBtigers) March 15, 2019
Armed police were deployed in the city near where the shooting happened in Hagley Park at 1.40pm (NZT) on Friday and schools across the city are now in lockdown.
Gunfire was heard coming from the direction of the mosque and several people were seen on the ground outside the building, One News reported.
Several hundred people were inside the mosque at the time and witnesses reported seeing at least four people on the ground and “blood everywhere”, according to Radio New Zealand.
One man said the scene at the mosque was chaotic.
“I heard a big sound of the gun. And a second one, I ran. Lots of people were sitting on the floor. I ran behind the mosque,” he told TVNZ.
“The floor. There’s lots of blood on the floor, you can see when you go in.”
The man, who did not give his name said he saw four people on the floor but did not see the shooter.
“In response to a serious ongoing firearms incident in Christchurch all Christchurch schools have been placed into lockdown,” NZ Police tweeted.
Christchurch Hospital and the city’s university were also on lockdown.
Residents have been asked to remain indoors and report suspicious behaviour.
Urgent. Please note St Annes School is in lock down. We will advise when students can be picked up. Please do not come into the school grounds until advised. Thank you
— St Anne's Catholic (@StAnnesCatholic) March 15, 2019