Eastern Kentuckians in New Zealand during mass shooting tell their stories

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(WYMT) - 49 people are dead and 20 others are seriously injured after a shooting in New Zealand.

Yesterday's attack targeted two mosques in the city of Christchurch.

Friday afternoon, we learned a Hazard couple is in the country vacationing.

Ken and Diana Patula live in Hazard. They are the ones who own the McDonalds here in town.

They were out on an excursion yesterday on the northern island of New Zealand yesterday when the shooting happened.

They say they did not know about the shooting until they got back to their cruise ship and turned on the news.

Because the couple has limited cell service on their trip, they took to social media to let their friends and family members know that they are ok.

Even though the shooting happened on the southern island, they say it has been shocking and heartbreaking being so close to where 49 people were murdered.

"It's a beautiful country, it's probably one of the nicest places we've ever seen. And to have something like that happen so close, it really hits home", said Ken Patula. "It's just an awful thing to have to experience. We pray for everybody involved."

Friday, we also talked with a Pike County native who now lives in New Zealand.

Sarah Hughes says that the country is just not a place where things like this happen.

She says he remembers hearing about school shootings when she was in school in Pike County, but since she's moved to New Zealand, she says those kinds of crimes are rare.

"Columbine happened when I was a freshman at Pike Central so it kind of resonated really to my core. I thought I had left all of that behind. And then hearing about it yesterday was like 'how'? 'How has this happened in New Zealand, one of the safest places, presumably, in the world?'"

Hughes tells us she just hopes people there will resort to spreading love to help heal the community's wounds.

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