After a right-wing Australian terrorist opened fire on worshippers at two mosques in New Zealand's Christchurch, killing 49 people and injuring scores of others, the entire world is still reeling from the attck, the entirety of which was live-streamed on social media platforms by the murderer.
While investigations are ongoing, and the trauma of the attacks will continue to reverberate across the normally peaceful country and its migrant Muslim community for years, one particular group of would-be worshippers had a merciful escape.
Bangladesh's cricket team was scheduled to play against New Zealand's national squad in Christchurch for a series taking place on the island nation, which has since been cancelled. Indeed, Bangladeshi players were meant to attend their Friday prayers at one of the mosques targetted by the shooter.
In a video posted on Twitter, the team's manager Khaled Mashud Pil revealed that the players and support staff had had a close escape, narrowly avoiding the attack from a mere "50 feet away."
"Almost all of the cricket team, barring a few who stayed at the hotel was there," said Mashud Pil, adding "If we had reached any earlier, we would be inside the mosque. I'm very lucky and thankful that we were outside.
Bangladesh Team Manager Khaled Mashud Pilot speaks to the media following the incident of shooting in Christchurch. Blackcaps (NZC) and the Bangladesh Cricket Bord : Tigers (BCB) has been made to cancel the Hagley Oval Test pic.twitter.com/CH80ohDFMO— Bangladesh Cricket (@BCBtigers) March 15, 2019
Meanwhile, messages of solidarity and support poured in from around the world on behalf of those killed and wounded in the heinous crime, as did gratitude for those who had escaped. Adding to the resounding chorus were members of the Indian cricketing community, which included current and former players, experts and others. They included their voices in the condemnation of the attack, as well as their support for the Bangladesh team.
Shocking and tragic. My heart goes out to the ones affected by this cowardly act at Christchurch. Thoughts with the Bangladesh team as well, stay safe. 🙏🏻— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) March 15, 2019
When you have to avoid live shooting and gunshots in New Zealand, you know the world is in a bad place. Relieved to hear the Bangladesh cricket team is safe.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) March 15, 2019
My thoughts go out to the victims, families & everyone affected by this inhumane tragedy; Stay strong New Zealand.— Rishabh Pant (@RishabPant777) March 15, 2019
Heartbreaking news coming out from New Zealand. What’s happened to humanity?— Rohit Sharma (@ImRo45) March 15, 2019
Went to New Zealand recently. It’s such a beautiful and peace loving country. Sad to hear about what happened there. Praying for the families of the deceased. 🙏— Shikhar Dhawan (@SDhawan25) March 15, 2019
#ChristchurchI found New Zealand to be the most beautiful and safest living places on the planet. May the departed souls rest in peace and my deepest condolences to all the Kith & kin. #ChristchurchMosqueShooting— R SRIDHAR (@coach_rsridhar) March 15, 2019
Bangladeshi journalist Mohammad Isam, in a tweet reported that the entire Bangladesh cricket team were among those who escaped from the mosque near Hagley park, where the shooting took place. "Bangladesh team escaped from a mosque near Hagley Park where there were active shooters. They ran back through Hagley Park back to the Oval," he wrote.
Bangladesh team escaped from a mosque near Hagley Park where there were active shooters. They ran back through Hagley Park back to the Oval. pic.twitter.com/VtkqSrljjV— Mohammad Isam (@Isam84) March 15, 2019
The Bangladesh Cricket Team's official Twitter handle also provided an update, assuring the public that all team members were safe, writing, "All members of the Bangladesh Cricket Team in Christchurch, are safely back in the hotel following the incident of shooting in the city.The Bangladesh Cricket Board is in constant contact with the players and team management".
All members of the Bangladesh Cricket Team in Christchurch, are safely back in the hotel following the incident of shooting in the city.The Bangladesh Cricket Board is in constant contact with the players and team management.#ChristchurchMosqueAttack pic.twitter.com/TTpIFxLp05— Bangladesh Cricket (@BCBtigers) March 15, 2019
The handle also announced the joint decision by Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) and New Zealand Cricket (NZC) to cancel the Hagley Oval Test.
Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) and New Zealand Cricket (NZC) has been made to cancel the Hagley Oval Test after a joint discussion.https://t.co/PzVjW4qBFy— Bangladesh Cricket (@BCBtigers) March 15, 2019