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Damage to a hostel building is seen following a fire in Wellington on May 16, 2023.
Authorities in New Zealand say at least six people were killed in an overnight fire at a hostel in the capital Wellington.
According to a statement from Fire and Emergency New Zealand, fire crews were called to the Loafers Lodge Inn in the city center shortly after midnight local time.
As firefighters battled the blaze, 52 people were evacuated, but it was unclear how many people were inside at the time. As of late Monday, urban search and rescue team members were still determining whether the building was safe to search.
It is unclear what caused the fire.
Firefighters stand outside a hostel where a fire broke out overnight.
Thala Chili stayed at the hostel. CNN affiliate told Radio NZ The experience was “really scary.”
He said he saw smoke coming from under his door on the top floor of the inn and jumped two floors onto the roof of a nearby building, where he was rescued by paramedics and treated for a sprained ankle.
A local politician Paul Eagle told RNZ The unstable nature of many of the building’s occupants made it difficult for authorities to determine who was inside the building when the fire broke out.
“It’s not uncommon for them not to know who exactly is there at the time because people can come and go all the time,” Rongotai MP told RNZ. “It’s a simple place, a roof over their heads, a simple place to stay.”
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Emergency services examine the scene after a fire in Wellington, New Zealand on May 16, 2023.
According to the Loafers Lodge website, the lodge offers 92 rooms with common areas, kitchens and laundry facilities within walking distance of Wellington Hospital in Newtown.
Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson Several residents told reporters they had “lost everything.”
of New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins visited the site on Tuesday He also expressed his condolences to the victims and their loved ones.
“We haven’t seen an event of this magnitude for some time,” he said.
A drone surveys the damage following a fire at a four-storey hostel in central Wellington, New Zealand.
Mayoral Relief Fund set up by Wellington City Mission for fire victims Wellington Mayor Tory The family told reporters.
Most residents evacuated from the hostel were sent to safe accommodation, where they were given food, shelter and warm blankets, whanau. He said in a video shared on his Facebook page.
In a press conference, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he had spoken to Hipkins and would assist as needed.
“My condolences on behalf of Australia to our friends in New Zealand at this difficult time,” Albanese told reporters in Melbourne. “Certainly any help, as always, from Australia to New Zealand.”