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Two young women from Darwin have been caught up in the deadliest mass shooting in US history.
Sharon Kamber and her friend, Miss Universe NT finalist Artia Ratahi, were dining on the Las Vegas Strip close to the country music festival where a gunman shot dead at least 59 people on Sunday night.
The pair, both 21, had just ordered at the Outback Steakhouse, a five-minute drive from the Mandalay Bay hotel, when the restaurant went into lockdown.
“We were stuck in the restaurant for a good three hours, until about 2am,” Ms Kamber said.
“My friend was able to be a lot more calm than I was. I called my parents… half in tears, telling them I loved them.”
Darwin woman Sharon Kamber (R) and her friend, Miss Universe Australia 2017 Northern Territory finalist Artia Ratahi (AAP)Sharon Kamber
More than 527 people were injured in the shooting and Ms Kamber said at the time there were rumours of two more shooters in the area.
“They told us that nothing’s clear but we could leave at our own risk,” she said.
“We were very scared. It was hard not to break down.”
The two-minute walk back to her hotel was “horrifying”, with police lining the deserted strip every few metres.
“It was an eerie feeling – such a lively place was so dead.”
Miss Universe Australia 2017 Northern Territory finalist Artia Ratahi who has been caught up in the deadliest mass shooting in US historyAAP
The Northern Territory promotions worker said it was a “very American” way to end a six-month trip to the US, and she was happy to be flying home.
“You always see on the news that America has issues with their guns laws, it’s just crazy they’re not doing much about it,” Ms Kamber said.
“I wasn’t too surprised that something like this was happening, which is saddening to say.”
50 dead, hundreds injured
US officials reacted cautiously meanwhile to an IS claim that Stephen Craig Paddock, 64, had carried out Sunday night’s massacre on the Las Vegas Strip on behalf of the jihadist group.
Police said Paddock, a retired accountant with no criminal record, smashed windows in his 32nd floor hotel room shortly after 10:00 pm and trained bursts of automatic weapons fire on thousands of people attending a country music concert below.
Investigators recovered 23 guns, including assault rifles, from Paddock’s room at the Mandalay Bay hotel, and another 18 firearms along with bomb-making materials at one of his two homes.
Consular staff from across the US are helping in the search for any Australians caught up in the deadly Las Vegas mass shooting.
No Australians have so far been identified as dead or injured but Australian authorities are working with their Canadian and British counterparts and contacting hospitals.
“We’ve increased our consular staff in both Los Angeles and Las Vegas. We are sending staff from our Washington embassy, experienced consular staff,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told ABC radio on Tuesday.
This undated photo provided by Eric Paddock shows him (left) with his brother, Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock (right) (AAP)AAP
0:00 Police scanner of the moment officers raid shooters room in Mandalay Bay Share Police scanner of the moment officers raid shooters room in Mandalay Bay
President Donald Trump denounced what he called “an act of pure evil” and said he would visit Las Vegas on Wednesday.
But the White House said it would be “premature” to reopen the US debate on tighter gun controls in the wake of the shooting.
“A motive is yet to be determined and it would be premature for us to discuss policy when we don’t fully know all of the facts or what took place last night,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
0:00 ‘Act of pure evil’: Trump decries Vegas mass shooting Share ‘Act of pure evil’: Trump decries Vegas mass shooting
Broken windows are seen on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino after a lone gunman opened fired (Getty)Getty