‘I can't believe my eyes what I saw today’
The violence began when a gunman, dressed in dark clothing, opened fire in the Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch on Friday during a prayer session.
Witnesses said they ran for their lives after hearing gunshots, reports BBC.
Mohan Ibrahim from Bangladesh was inside the larger of the two mosques when the attack happened and managed to escape.
"Lots of people I know, I met them regularly in the mosque when I'd go there, these people are not alive any more. And that's really unacceptable," he told BBC.
"I can't believe my eyes what I saw today."
Ibrahim, who arrived in New Zealand as a student five years ago, added: "I never expected that, because I've been living here for five years and I know that New Zealand is one of the safest countries - but I'm so scared now. I never imagined like I have to face up to something that I saw today on my own eyes."
‘God please, let him run out of bullets’
One unnamed survivor who had blood on his clothes told local media that he saw the gunman shoot a man in the chest, reports BBC.
He estimated that the shooting lasted for around 20 minutes.
"I was thinking he must run out of bullets," he told broadcaster TVNZ.
"What I did was basically waiting and praying, God please, let him run out of bullets," he said.
The survivor said: "He came to this side, he shoots this side, and he went to another room and went to the ladies' section and shot them. I just heard one of the ladies has died."
At the second mosque, Linwood mosque, survivors told local media they saw a gunman in a black motorcycle helmet open fire on around 100 people praying inside.
The attack occurred shortly after the first attack at the Al Noor mosque, according to BBC.
Witness Syed Ahmed told Stuff, a leading New Zealand-based news outlet, that the man had been "shouting something" during the shooting.
He said he saw at least eight people killed, including two of his friends.
‘Piles of bodies’
A survivor of the Al Noor Mosque shooting described to The New Zealand Herald how he ran for his life as the bullets flew.
Noor Hamzah, 54, said when the shooting began he ran outside with scores of others.
They hid behind cars in the rear car park at the Deans Avenue mosque.
Armed police later stormed the building, and Hamzah could see dead bodies lying at the front entrance.
He looked in the mosque windows and saw "piles of bodies."
"This is a disaster for New Zealand. A black day," said Hamzah, who had blood on his clothes from trying to help the wounded.
"I can't imagine something like this happening at all. It hasn't sunk into my head yet. I think I'll go into shock over the next couple of days. I hope I am strong enough.”
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.— Jacinda Ardern (@jacindaardern) March 15, 2019
Prayer time turns to terror
As Anwar Alsaleh took cover at Christchurch's Masjid Al Noor mosque, he rang emergency services pleading for help.
He was in a small bathroom performing ablutions before the prayer when a gunman walked in, reports Stuff, a leading New Zealand-based news outlet.
Anwar hid and tried to call the police several times while the shooting took place, but could not reach anyone. He got through to an emergency ambulance service and told them: "There's a big massacre, please send help and call the police because they're continuously shooting."
Anwar said police arrived about 20 minutes after the shooting began. When he was led out of the building, he saw several bodies, including those of women and children.
He described the actions of those involved as "worse than terrorists.”
“They were cold-blooded killers.”
Anwar moved to New Zealand from Palestine in 1996 and thought it was a safe place to live. He thanked the neighbours of the mosque for their support and said: "New Zealand people are nice. I have many friends here."
‘I saw my best friend’s wife die’
Nour Tavis said he was in the front row of the Al Noor Mosque with his friend when the shooting started. At first they did not know what the noise was.
"Then we heard screaming ... everyone panicked," he said. "There was shooting and shooting and shooting ... people were running and all of a sudden you saw them fall," he told The New Zealand Herald.
Tavis saw someone smash a window and jump out. "It was the only way to escape," he said. "I followed."
As he and others ran for cover, the shooting carried on inside the mosque.
Tavis scaled a fence and banged on a neighbour's door — desperately hoping someone would answer and take him in to safety. They did.
"We got in there and I could see another man had been shot, I could see blood," he said.
Tavis then tried to go back to the mosque and help the injured.
Tavis' friend lost his wife in the attack.
"There were people bleeding to death, it was terrible," he said.
At least one gunman killed 49 people and grievously wounded more than 20 during Friday prayers at two New Zealand mosques in the country's worst ever mass shooting, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern condemned as terrorism.
A gunman broadcast live footage on Facebook of the attack on one mosque in the city of Christchurch, mirroring the carnage played out in video games, after publishing a "manifesto" in which he denounced immigrants, calling them "invaders."