Up to 10 people dead and 11 missing after fire rips through New Zealand hostel

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Up to 10 people have been killed in a fire at a hostel in New Zealand. More are feared dead with 11 still missing.

The fire broke out overnight (at around 12.30am local time) in the 92-room, four-storey Loafers Lodge in Wellington, police said.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said he understands that six people have been confirmed dead, and that there are likely to be more.

Bruce Stubbs, incident commander for the fire service, said: ‘There is a significant amount of debris from the roof collapse but at this stage we have located six people.’

Emergency services were called to the Loafers Lodge hostel, and Wellington Fire and Emergency district manager Nick Pyatt said 52 people have been accounted for, but that a number still remained missing.

He said: ‘I can sadly report that this will be a multi-fatality incident.

‘Our thoughts at this time are with the families of those who have perished and with our crews who valiantly rescued those (they could) and attempted to rescue those that they couldn’t.’

‘This is our worst nightmare,’ Mr Pyatt said. ‘It doesn’t get worse than this.’

The cause of the fire is not known, but emergency services were treating the incident as suspicious, and they would be investigating alongside fire and emergency officials.

Loafers Lodge resident Tala Sili told news outlet Radio New Zealand (RNZ) that he saw smoke pouring through under his door and opened it to find the hallway pitch black.

He said: ‘I was on the top floor and I couldn’t go through the hallway because there was just too much smoke, so I jumped out the window.’

He said he then fell onto a roof two floors below. He added: ‘It was just scary, it was really scary, but I knew I had to jump out the window or just burn inside the building.’

Mr Sili said he was rescued from the roof by paramedics and treated for a sprained ankle.

Police said the cause of the fire remained unexplained, and they would be investigating alongside fire and emergency officials.

Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said it was helping about 50 people who had escaped the fire and were now at an emergency centre the council set up at a local running track that had showers and other facilities.

He said there were a number of elderly people it was helping who had escaped with only the pyjamas they were wearing.

‘A lot are clearly shaken and bewildered about what happened,’ he said.

Loafers Lodge advertises itself as an affordable place for people to stay while they are in the capital, whether on business or needing to visit the nearby Wellington Hospital.

It has 92 rooms and promotes them as being available long term.

The hostel provided accommodation for people including construction workers, hospital staff and those serving sentences in the community for minor crimes.

‘This is a once-in-a-decade fire for Wellington. It’s the worst nightmare for us,’ FENZ Wellington District Commander Nick Pyatt said in a statement.

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Ola Alabi
Ola Moses is a certified writer, He writes technically and creatively. He is the CEO of WORDSWORTH, a house where writing is made easier for all. He is a content creator at EsB TV, since 2019. He is a young man that showcases professionalism in all that he does, he was announced as Child and Green Foundation Person of the Year 2018, one of his many lists of honours.

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