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White shoes line church in memory of Christchurch shooting victims

50 pairs of white shoes represent the lives lost in New Zealand's mass shooting. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Christchurch, New Zealand Mar 19, 2019, 05.27 PM (IST)

On the grass outside a church in New Zealand lie 50 pairs of white shoes, each representing one of the lives lost in a mass shooting at two mosques in the community just a few days ago.

The city of Christchurch has come together in mourning following the attack, which saw a lone gunman open fire on worshippers during Friday (March 15) prayers.

"One of the sort of things we were aware of was the tradition of taking off your shoes as you went into worship. And suddenly the thought that there were 49 and 50 pairs of shoes that would never be filled again, was just an image that just kept coming back," said Megan Merles-Mooar, the vicar of All Souls Church.

"It's been a beautiful opportunity for the community to come somewhere to grieve and to mourn," said one of the church's members, adding that people of all faith had come to view the shoes.

As preparations for the first burials were underway on Tuesday (March 19), New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern praised the bravery and courage by mosque worshippers as the gunman massacred their friends and family, saying the nation stood with its grieving Muslim community in this "darkest of days".

Story highlights

The city of Christchurch has come together in mourning following the attack, which saw a lone gunman open fire on worshippers during Friday (March 15) prayers.