A state of emergency has been declared across the city of Orlando after deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history in which more than 50 people have been reported dead

FLORIDA (United States) – A heavily armed assailant opened fire in a packed Orlando nightclub early Sunday and killed 50 people in the worst shooting massacre in U.S. history.

Police Chief John Mina said the tragedy began at 2:02 a.m., when three police officers engaged in a gun battle with a suspect outside the club. A hostage situation then took place inside, and a SWAT team was called in, Mina said. Police received updates from patrons trapped in the club, and decided to storm the club at about 5 a.m.

“Our biggest concern was further loss of life,” Mina said. “We exchanged gunfire with the suspect, and he was dead at the scene.”

Mayor Dyer confirmed to a press conference that there were 50 killed and 53 hospitalised in the shooting, not 20 killed and 42 hospitalised as initially reported by police.

“It’s absolutely terrible, 50 casualties, one location, it’s absolutely one of the worst tragedies we’ve seen,” he said.

“Tonight our community witnessed a horrific crime… that will have a lasting effect on our community,” a solemn Mayor Buddy Dyer said.

A state of emergency has been declared across the city of Orlando, Mayor Dyer has announced, to allow law enforcement officials to focus on the investigation of the shooting at Pulse night club overnight.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said officials are investigating the shooting as an “act of terrorism,” but it was unclear whether it was domestic or international terrorism, or if the shooter was a lone wolf.

Orlando police said the shooting was being treated as “terrorist activity” and had resulted in mass casualties, urging people to stay away from the area. Local unconfirmed reports suggested as many as 20 people could have been injured in the attack, and video footage shared on social media showed a high police presence around the club.

Police confirmed that a number of people had been killed in the attack – in the “vicinity of 20” – but refused to give a toll. They added that 42 people had been taken to hospital and confirmed the gunman was armed with an assault rifle, handgun and “some kind of device”.

More than 100 people were reported to have been enjoying a Latin-themed night in the club, which calls itself the hottest gay bar in the city, when the attack began.

The shooter opened fire at around 02:00 local time (06:00 GMT), as the club night was coming to a close.

“We heard rapid fire go off. In the room I was in, people went down to the floor. I wasn’t able to see the shooter or people get hurt.

“At some point, there was a brief pause, and a group of us got up and went to the exit that leads to the patio area outside. We found an exit and after that… I just ran.”

Another man, Anthony Torres, said he heard people screaming that others in the nightclub were dead.

According to the Mass Shooting Tracker, there were 372 mass shootings – defined as a single incident that kills or injures four or more people – in the US in 2015. Some 475 people were killed and 1,870 wounded.

The incident follows the fatal shooting late Friday of 22-year-old singer Christina Grimmie, who was killed after her concert in Orlando by a 27-year-old Florida man who later killed himself. Grimmie was a YouTube sensation and former contestant on “The Voice.”

Role of Orlando police has also been appreciated in saving many innocent lives.

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