New Zealand police say deadly hostel fire suspected arson


Published: 2023-05-17 10:39

Last Updated: 2024-06-21 19:03

New Zealand police say deadly hostel fire suspected arson
New Zealand police say deadly hostel fire suspected arson

A hostel blaze that killed at least six people in New Zealand's capital is being treated as arson, police said Wednesday as they launched a homicide investigation.

Flames and smoke engulfed the four-storey Loafers Lodge in Wellington in the early hours of Tuesday, forcing dozens of residents to flee for their lives.

Some crawled through thick smoke to safety, while others were rescued from the roof by emergency services using ladder trucks.

"I can confirm that we are treating the fire as arson," police inspector and acting district commander Dion Bennett told reporters, declining to give the full reasons behind the arson probe.

"It is being treated as a homicide investigation," he said, adding that police had a list of people they wanted to speak to.

No-one had been arrested so far, Bennett said.

Firefighters said they found six bodies inside the charred 92-room hostel, but were unable to search everywhere because the roof had partially collapsed on the top floor.

Earlier, police revealed that a couch had caught fire inside the hostel just two hours before the fatal blaze broke out, and that they were investigating possible links.

A police reconnaissance team entered the building for the first time on Wednesday after it was declared safe, aiming to look for evidence and locate the dead.

The Loafers Lodge advertised itself as a "convenient and affordable" option offering laundry and kitchen facilities as well as security, with a lock on each floor.