A Clergyman of the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand of the Russian Church Abroad on the Christchurch massacre:
“People are frightened, but they’re helping each other.”
In the city of Christchurch in eastern New Zealand, a gunman opened fire in the Al-Nur and Linwood Masdjid mosques. Over 40 people died, all churches and schools in the city have been closed. Priest Valentin Basyuk, Rector of St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Christchurch, describes the situation:
Dozens of people have been killed in New Zealand during an attack on two mosques.
People are of course frightened. Right after this terrorist act, all public places, commercial spaces and schools have been closed. People are being urged to leave their workplaces, go home and stay there. Children stayed in school closets under the watch of police until late night; it was deemed safer than evacuating them.
A large effort was under way to catch the perpetrators. All streets were closed, residents were asked to stay inside their homes and leave the streets free of traffic. According to some sources, explosive devices were found in a vehicle: it is possible that other terrorist acts were planned.
At this time we know that four suspects are in custody. Despite the fact that New Zealand police are, you could say, peace-loving, in this case they were very professional and efficient.
One of the mosques where the terrorist act took place is right downtown. There were many adults and children there. Surrounding it are parks that the city residents enjoy. There was a youth protest that day against global warming, possibly the terrorists chose this time and place to maximize the number of victims, but this is just speculation.
The city’s populace and officials organized quickly. A headquarters was quickly established. The police commissioner speaks to the press every 10-15 minutes with the latest news. Our city is not big, people all know their neighbors here. People are very frightened and shocked, but everyone is helping each other—that’s the “village effect.” In 2011, there was a great earthquake here, with some 200 casualties. Despite our very placid and calm way of life, people know how to react in emergencies and organize mutual aid.