As a result of a fire that broke out in a hostel, the Prime Minister of New Zealand has informed the local media that a minimum of six individuals have been killed and others are still missing.
At around local night (Monday 12:30 GMT), firefighters were called to the hostel in Wellington in Loafers Lodge, which has four stories.
More than fifty people were pulled to safety from the structure, but the authorities said that eleven individuals were still missing.
The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Chris Hipkins, issued a warning that the number of fatalities was expected to rise.
The police also stated that they were unable to provide any additional information regarding the number of fatalities until they had access to the structure.
There is no evidence to suggest what started the fire. According to the New Zealand Herald, fire officials from Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) have stated that they are treating the incident as suspicious; nevertheless, the police “do not think that the fire was deliberately lit.”
When firefighters arrived at the scene, they discovered that the building’s upper floor was engulfed in flames. At 4:00, there were already at least Twenty fire engines on their way to the fire.
According to claims from the local press, sprinkler systems did not function, and the authorities were unable to establish whether or not the fire detection systems were operational.
It was termed Wellington’s “worst fear” by FENZ regional commander named Nick Pyatt.
According to reports from the Herald of New Zealand, Mr. Pyatt also stated that the structure had asbestos as well as urged residents of the area to use face masks and to maintain their windows shut in order to avoid breathing in smoke.
This is a terrible situation for everyone involved. He expressed his deepest sympathies to the victim’s loved ones, saying, “My sincere condolences go out to the families and friends of those who passed away their loved ones.”
According to reports from the local press, the authorities were able to save a minimum of five people who were trapped on the top of the blazing building. However, one individual suffered significant injuries after leaping from the third level of the structure in order to escape the blaze.
Tala Sili, a resident, reported to Radio New Zealand that he observed smoke emanating from beneath his door and then opened it to discover the hallway filled with smoke. He stated this information to the national broadcasting organization. He made the decision to leap out of his bedroom window and land on a roof that was located two levels below him.
According to him, the situation was frightening, to the point that it was downright terrifying, but he knew that he had to leap out of the window or else he would perish in the building.
The Loafers Lodge Hostel offers a total of 92 rooms and is designed to accommodate guests for both short and long stays.
In 2011, the Ministry of Social Affairs of New Zealand recognized it as a supplier of emergency housing and designated it as such. As of the month of February, official records show that there are over 3,300 households who are living in temporary housing.
According to accounts from the local media, Loafers’ customers include persons in a variety of different life situations, ranging from shift employees like nurses as well as hospital personnel to jobless and homeless people.
Some of the inhabitants are persons who have previously been removed from Australia, while others cannot be located or identified.
Mr. Hipkins, in remarks made to the local media, described the fire as an utter tragedy and praised the efforts of the town’s firefighters who, over the course of the past few hours, have placed themselves in danger in order to rescue persons trapped within the structure and put out the blaze.