Mourners hug after paying their respects to the victims near the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, Monday, March 18, 2019. A steady stream of mourners paid tribute at makeshift memorial to the 50 people slain by a gunman at two mosques i

Vincent Yu/AP Photo

Families of Christchurch dead in agonizing wait for burials

March 17, 2019 - 8:27 pm
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CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — Families of the 50 people killed in the Christchurch mosque shootings are enduring an increasingly agonizing wait for the bodies of victims to be released as New Zealand reels from the unprecedented tragedy.

Three days after Friday's attack, New Zealand's deadliest shooting in modern history, relatives were anxiously waiting for word on when they can bury their loved ones. Islamic tradition calls for bodies to be cleansed and buried as soon as possible after death.

Aya Al-Umari, whose older brother Hussien Al-Umari died at the Al Noor mosque, said "It's very unsettling not knowing what's going on, if you just let me know — is he still in the mosque? Is he in a fridge? Where is he?"

Authorities say they hope to release all the bodies by Wednesday.

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