The death toll in the Christchurch mosque shootings has risen to 49, New Zealandinfo-icon's police commissioner has confirmed, adding that a man in his late 20s has been charged with murder and is set to appear in courtinfo-icon on Saturday. 

Up to 41 people died at one mosque, seven at another and one person died in hospital, Mike Bush told reporters, while more than 20 others have been taken to hospital with serious injuries.

One of the suspects is Australian, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. "I can confirm that the individual who was taken into custody I have been advised is an Australian-born citizen," he told reporters in Sydney.

Video footage widely circulated on social mediainfo-icon, apparently taken by a gunman and posted online live as the attack unfolded, showed him driving to one mosque, entering it and shooting randomly at people inside.

One man who said he was at the Al Noor mosque told mediainfo-icon the gunman was white, blond and wearing a helmet and a bulletproof vest. The man burst into the mosque as worshipers were kneeling for prayers.

"He had a big gun ... he came and started shooting everyone in the mosque, everywhere," Ahmad al-Mahmoud told Reuters. He said he and others escaped by breaking through a glass door.

'Unprecedented act of violence,' New Zealand PM says of shooting

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the incident as an "unprecedented act of violence".

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"I would describe it as an unprecedented act of violence. An act that has absolutely no place in New Zealand. This is not who we are," she said in a press conference.

"It I can tell you now this is and will be one of New Zealand's darkest days."

Ardern confirmed that one person had been taken under custody.

"Migrants and refugees have chosen to make New Zealand their home and it is their home. For the person who perpetuated this violence it is not."

'Blood everywhere'

One witness told he was praying in the Deans Ave mosque when he heard shooting and saw his wife lying dead on the footpath outside when he fled. Another man said he saw children being shot.

"There were bodies all over me," he said.

Local media said another mosque had been evacuated.

An eyewitness told Radioinfo-icon New Zealand he heard shots fired and four people were lying on the ground, with "blood everywhere".

Police commissioner Mike Bush said all schools in the city had been placed in lockdown in response to "a serious ongoing firearms incident".

"Police urge anyone in central Christchurch to stay off the streets and report any suspicious behaviour," he said in a statement.

Central city buildings, including the Civic Offices and Central Library, were also locked down.

The city council offered a helpline for parents looking for kids attending a mass climate change rally nearby.

"Please do not try and come and collect your children until police say it is safe for people to come into the central city," they said.

The Masjid al Noor was filled with worshippers, including members of the Bangladeshinfo-icon cricketinfo-icon team.

Test cancelled

In the aftermath of the shooting, the Test match between New Zealand and Bangladesh that was due to take place tomorrow in Christchurch was cancelled, Black Caps Twitterinfo-icon account announced.

Bangladesh's cricket team escaped unscathed after the shooting, and official team had told AFP. Bangladesh Cricket Board spokesman Jalal Yunus said most of the team were bussed to the mosque and were about to go inside when the incident happened.

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"They are safe. But they are mentally shocked. We have asked the team to stay confined in the hotel," he told AFP.

He said Bangladesh cricket board is in contact with New Zealand cricket authorities and would take further decision after consultation.

Player Tamim Iqbal tweeted that it was a "frightening experience" and that there were "active shooters".

"Entire team got saved from active shooters!!!" tweeted Tamim Iqbal. "Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers."

Mushfiqur Rahim also tweeted about the attack and said the team was "extremely lucky" to be safe.

"Alhamdulillah Allah [saved] us today [during] shooting in Christchurch in the mosque... we are extremely lucky... never want to see this things happen again (sic)... pray for us," he said.