WELLINGTON: New Zealand police said on Wednesday (May 17) a fire at a hostel in the capital, Wellington, in which at least six people were killed was suspected to have been arson and they had opened a homicide inquiry.
A blaze broke out on the top floor of the Loafers Lodge in the suburb of Newtown in the early hours of Tuesday, causing major structural damage that is hampering recovery efforts.
Following a health and safety assessment, police said investigators hoped to enter the 92-room building in the afternoon to begin their investigation, and find and identify the dead.
“This scene examination will be an extensive and methodical process, and we expect it to take some time – likely several days,” Acting Wellington District Commander Dion Bennett said.
“I can confirm that we are treating the fire as arson.”
The hostel provided accommodation for construction workers, hospital staff and those serving sentences in the community for minor crimes, among other people.
Police said on Wednesday that some people were missing, putting the number at less than 20 people. They said some of the missing residents of the hostel might just be unaccounted for.