Atikul Islam will never forget the excruciating hours that followed March 15's atrocity.

The Tauranga man's nephew Sheikh Hassan , fondly known as Rubel, was shot twice in the back at the Deans Ave mosque in Christchurch.

The shootings resulted in 50 dead and many others, like Rubel, badly wounded.

When Islam heard the news he immediately phoned his beloved nephew but a different voice answered.


"I'm asking 'are you Rubel?' but this voice said 'no, I was just running from the mosque and picked up the phone'."

Islam learned his nephew was buried under a pile of bodies in a corner of the mosque. It was not until the following day he learned Rubel had survived, just.

"He was the only person alive in that bunch of about 10 people," Islam said.

Rubel has a wife who is four months pregnant and a 3-year-old daughter who is the apple of her father's eye. His mother is back in their homeland of Bangladesh and plans to come over as soon as she is able.

Islam plans to fly to Christchurch on Monday to be with Rubel, who has just been moved from Christchurch Hospital's intensive care unit into a ward.

Islam said Rubel was a qualified accountant. Rubel spent seven years in London but did not feel safe walking streets at night as there was often trouble outside his home.

"I told him 'why don't you come here? This is the safest place', that's why they moved."

Islam said the hours after the attack were especially hard, not knowing whether Rubel was alive or not.


"Nobody was able to say anything, even his wife couldn't connect with him. I didn't know what to do."

However, now he has learned of Rubel's incredible survival he is looking forward to seeing him again.