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NZ mosque attack victims' families anxiously wait to bury remains

Workers begin digging graves for the victims of the New Zealand mosque attacks.
Photo: Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

Workers began digging graves in Christchurch, New Zealand, but many families were still waiting for the remains of those who died in the mosque attacks to be released Sunday night local time.

Why it matters: Under Islamic law, bodies are cleansed and buried soon after death, usually within 24 hours.

What they're saying: Police Commissioner Mike Bush said authorities were aware of the cultural and religious needs, and they were working as quickly as possible to release the remains all 50 victims. "We have to be absolutely clear on the cause of death and confirm their identity before that can happen," he said. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said a small number of bodies were being returned Sunday evening. She expected all to be released by Wednesday.

Go deeper: New Zealand mourns: Bodies of victims being returned to families