Irish rugby legend Ronan O’Gara has described the shock in the city of Christchurch after today’s terrorist attack at two mosques.
At least 40 people were killed and 20 people injured in the attacks at the mosques in the centre of the city.
Police also made safe a number of improvised explosive devices.
Three men and one woman are in custody, but police have warned there could be other attackers at large.
O’Gara lives in New Zealand and is the current coach of the Crusaders who are based in Christchurch.
He said it has been an extremely difficult day for people right across the city.
“Of all the cities in the world, I suppose, Christchurch has had its own adversity with earthquakes – but people here are very resilient and very nice and now this out of the blue,” he said.
“Yeah the boys are shook. There is no doubt about it. Everyone is shook.
“I am not from there obviously, but it is a lovely city and when you live there it becomes your home so it has been a very surreal day.”
He said his Crusaders team were arriving at Christchurch Airport when news of the attacks broke.
“It is hard to know what to do or where to go to,” he said. “I suppose that is what shock is.”
“It is obviously very raw at the minute so people are kind of just keeping to themselves, especially in the team environment that I am in.
“We travelled just two hours ago from Christchurch to Dunedin but I think now that airport is closed.”
He said Christchurch is “very similar to any Irish town” although potentially a lot quieter.
“For this to happen on streets that you know makes it all the more incomprehensible,” he said.
“My mum and dad are over as well so they got my youngest boy and Jess went to get the other four who are in the same school.
“There was a lock-down so I think she went into the staffroom and they were there from 3pm to 6pm.
“I think they got home an hour and a half ago so thankfully everyone is safe.”
The Irish Embassy in Wellington has urged any Irish citizens concerned for their safety to contact it on 04-4712252.