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New Zealand: Arrest made after deadly hostel fire that killed at least six people | World News


A man has been arrested in New Zealand after a hostel fire in Wellington that left at least six people dead.

He has been charged with two counts of arson after Loafers Lodge in Wellington caught fire, but could face further charges as the case progresses, police said.

The unnamed suspect will appear in court on Friday.

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Fire kills six people in Wellington

An investigation is ongoing, and a murder probe has been opened. Dion Bennett, a police inspector, said officers are confident no one else is involved.

Earlier on Thursday, officers removed the first two victims’ bodies from the hostel and said they would remove two more on Friday, with Mr Bennett adding more victims could be found.

“The damage on the third floor is significant,” he said.

“The debris is piled high and there is much for them to move and search underneath.”

He did not confirm if there was evidence of arson at the scene.

Two hours before the incident, a couch had been on fire at the lodge, but was not reported to emergency services.

Police are investigating if there is a link between the two fires.

Fire and emergency crews work at the scene of a fire at the Loafers Lodge, in Wellington, New Zealand

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People were forced to escape in their pyjamas as flames ripped through the building early on Tuesday morning, while others were rescued from the roof or jumped through windows.

Yesterday, Mr Bennett said 92 people had been accounted for, while 20 had not.

The 92-room hostel provided accommodation for people including construction workers, hospital staff and those serving sentences in the community for minor crimes.

Some of the hostel’s residents were described as vulnerable and had lost all their belongings in the fire, Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson said.

Officials said the building did not have sprinklers, which under the country’s building codes, are not required by older buildings where they would need to be retrofitted.

“I have asked the minister for housing to look particularly at issues around building regulations to see whether there’s anything more that we should be doing right at this point,” Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said on Wednesday.



This story originally appeared on Skynews

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