Journey home begins for Christchurch's foreign victims

The Indian High Commission in Wellington said the bodies of the two who were killed in the mosque shooting had arrived in their homeland and a third was expected later Monday

The bodies of two Christchurch shooting victims arrived in India as the repatriation process gets underway for foreign nationals killed in the mosque massacre that claimed 50 lives, officials said Monday.

The Indian High Commission in Wellington said the bodies of the two had arrived in their homeland and a third was expected later Monday.

The relatives of another two Indian victims opted to have their loved ones buried in New Zealand, a consulate spokesman said.

The bodies of foreigners killed by an Australian white supremacist gunman in the South Island city on March 15 are only now beginning to arrive back home after delays stemming from the police investigation into the massacre.

The victims, who came from across the Muslim world, were gathered for Friday prayers at two Christchurch mosques when the killing spree took place.

Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old motivated by the white extremist belief that Muslims were "invading" Western countries, was arrested within minutes of the massacre and has been charged with murder.

The bodies of the Indian victims are believed to be among the first to be repatriated.

"I'm not sure about the status of bodies from other nationalities but I can say we went through the process as quickly as possible," a spokesman for the Indian High Commission in Wellington said.

"We completed the procedure within a couple of days of the bodies being released."

The two repatriated Indian victims are Ansi Karippakulam Alibava, 23, a masters student from Kerala, and Ozair Kadir, 24, an aspiring commercial pilot from Hyderabad city.

The remains of Mahboob Khokhar, a 65-year-old retiree who was visiting his son in Christchurch when he was killed, are en route to India and should arrive about 10:00 pm (0300 Tuesday GMT).

The Indians buried in New Zealand are father and son Asif and Ramiz Vora, originally from Gujarat, who had celebrated the birth of Ramiz's daughter just days before the attack.