Six Dead in New Zealand Hostel Fire

Tuesday, a “worst nightmare” fire at a hostel in the capital city of Wellington left at least six people deceased and eleven others missing.

Tuesday just after midnight, the Loafers Lodge hostel in Newtown, in the city’s south, caught fire. At dawn, the uppermost levels of the structure were completely charred.

Chris Hipkins, the prime minister, visited the scene on Tuesday morning and reported that at least six people had perished and that number could increase. “From what I understand, six have already been confirmed, and it appears that there will be more,” he said. The conflagration is one of the deadliest in New Zealand over the past 50 years.

Authorities have warned that it will take some time to retrieve and identify all of the bodies, as the building’s roof has collapsed and sections of it are highly unstable. Relatives must endure a lengthy and trying wait for tidings.

Tuesday afternoon, Bruce Stubbs, a fire and emergency incident controller, reported that firefighters had located the bodies of six individuals but had not yet been able to retrieve them. He stated that portions of the building’s structure and roof had collapsed, and that emergency services were unable to search the entire structure.

Eleven persons are still missing. Te Whatu Ora, the national public health authority, advised nearby residents to close windows, turn off air conditioning units, and consider wearing respirator masks to reduce their exposure to smoke, as the building’s roof contained asbestos that could have been released by the fire and structural collapse.

Previously, Loafers Lodge served as an emergency accommodation provider. The building was included on a list of emergency housing providers distributed by the Ministry of Social Development in 2021.

As a result of New Zealand’s housing crisis, an increasing number of homeless individuals are sheltered permanently in motels and hostels.

Loafers Lodge provided affordable, basic rooms with communal lounges, kitchens, and laundry facilities to guests of all ages. Some had been assigned there by government agencies and were deemed vulnerable due to their lack of resources and support networks. Others were shift employees or nurses at a hospital nearby.

It has been reported that social service agencies, such as Wellington City Mission, have clients residing in the building, which advertises itself as providing affordable long- and short-term housing.