At least six people are dead and others are missing after a fire broke out in a four-story hostel in Wellington, New Zealand.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed on Tuesday morning local time that at least six people had died at the Loafers Lodge hostel, adding that “there could be more”.
Authorities say they believe up to ten people have died, but that estimate could change as they continue to investigate.
Local fire chief Nick Pyatt said it was a “once in a decade fire” for the nation’s capital, describing the tragedy as “our worst nightmare”.
Read live updates about the situation below.
The police announced ‘Operation Rose’ to track down the survivors
New Zealand’s national police force is asking for help in determining who survived the fire and who did not, in an outreach scheme called “Operation Rose”.
“Police are urging people who have stayed at Loafers Lodge in Adelaide Road, Newtown in Wellington in recent days and are safe, or anyone who is concerned about someone, to please get in touch,” the force said.
“They are asked to call 105 and refer to Operation Rose, or go online to https://www.police.govt.nz/use-105#online-report-options and select the ‘Something Else’ form , which refers to Operation Rose.
“Police use these reports, as well as other information from our community partners, to help determine who was in the building at the time and ensure their well-being.
“We are aware of information circulating related to the number of deaths and the number of unaccounted for. However, until more is known [we] not in a position to confirm the numbers.”
Io Dodds16 May 2023 04:00
Many elderly people report living on upper floors
Residents also say that many of the people on the upper floors of the hostel are elderly.
A resident, who escaped from the third floor, said The New Zealand Herald with many elderly people living on the upper levels of the building.
Another person told New Zealand broadcaster 1Newz that some residents were 80 or 90 years old, and he was worried if they had made it out.
“I took my hat off the road and just started crawling,” said the man, who asked to be identified only as Chris. “Crawling is difficult because there’s only so much airspace on the ground. For me, it’s hard, just short distances – it’s a struggle.”
Io Dodds16 May 2023 03:34
Residents say there are many false fire alarms
Residents of the Loafers Lodge hostel told Radio New Zealand that the building’s fire alarms were often left unexplained, meaning many residents had learned to ignore them.
“The alarm, they continue every week … there is no good management there, there is no good management,” Tamrat Isse Adan told the broadcaster.
Another resident, Miimetua Cameron, said she woke up to a phone call and not a fire alarm after most of her neighbors had already evacuated.
Paul Jury, who also lives at the hostel, also said there were frequent false fire alarms.
Io Dodds16 May 2023 03:07
There is no sprinkler system in the building
Deputy national fire chief Brendan Nally said that there is no sprinkler system in the Lodge of Loafers hostel, and that many residents do not have a clear way out.
“They struggled to get out, and unfortunately and tragically some didn’t get out,” he said, according to Radio New Zealand.
He said the building has a dry riser system – which allows firefighters to connect their hoses to a system of internal pipes and pump water to the upper floors – as well as several fire escapes outside the walls.
On Tuesday morning local time, 52 people were taken from the building and five were rescued from the roof, while the rest were not identified.
Five people were taken to the hospital, two in serious condition, and another 15 were treated by ambulance personnel at the scene.
Io Dodds16 May 2023 02:35
It is possible that the number of casualties will increase, according to the fire chief
Here’s what we know so far about what happened last night in Wellington.
Firefighters were alerted to the fire around 12:25 a.m. on Tuesday local time. They raced to the Loafers Lodge on Adelaide Road in Newtown, a southern district of the New Zealand capital.
Although firefighters had a complete register of the building’s residents, officials said it was initially unsafe for rescuers to enter, meaning they weren’t sure how many people could be dead or injured inside. .
“There are parts of the building that are badly damaged, and the safety of the firefighters is very important,” he said FENZ deputy national commander Brendan Nally, according to Radio New Zealand.
“That’s why we’re looking for parts carefully and deliberately, but unfortunately we believe that the number of deaths will increase throughout the day.”
Io Dodds16 May 2023 02:12
The number of missing is 11
Deputy national FENZ commander Brendan Nally confirmed that the number of people who are currently unknown is 11.
That’s how many people firefighters are looking for after rescuing “several dozen” from the fire, according to NZ news website Stuff.
Io Dodds16 May 2023 01:36
‘It’s a once-in-a-decade fire’
The local fire chief described the incident as a “once in a decade fire”.
Nick Pyatt, district manager for Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ), said: “This is a very sad event for all involved. My heartfelt condolences to the loved ones who lost their lives.
“It doesn’t get any worse than this. It’s a once-in-a-decade fire for Wellington. It’s our worst nightmare.”
Io Dodds16 May 2023 01:05
The hostel houses vulnerable people under the care of the charity
A major Wellington social service agency said many of those Lodge of Loafers the residents are vulnerable people who are under those.
The Wellington City Mission, a charitable trust that supports people in need, told New Zealand news website Stuff that it was looking after a “significant proportion” of hostel residents.
“It’s an absolute disaster,” said the head of the mission Murray Eddie. “These are people who are inherently vulnerable though. This is a tragedy for our community.”
The hostel has long been used as an emergency housing provider for homeless people, and was last listed as such by the Ministry of Social Development in 2021.
Io Dodds16 May 2023 00:53
A ‘worst nightmare’ fire in New Zealand’s capital
Good evening, or good morning if you are in New Zealand. At least six people have died and others remain missing after a fire at a hostel in Wellington that local authorities described as the city’s “worst nightmare”.
The prime minister of New Zealand Chris Hipkin said on Tuesday morning local time that six have been confirmed dead and “there is a possibility of more” at the Loafers Lodge hostel in southern Wellington.
Police said they believe the total number of dead is less than ten, but are still waiting to enter the building and confirm the number.
We will bring you more updates as we have them.
Io Dodds15 May 2023 23:56