Many persons have been confirmed dead after a fire broke out overnight at a four-story hostel in the New Zealand capital, Wellington.
According to New Zealand authorities, emergency services were called to the Loafers Lodge hostel about 12:30 a.m.
Wellington Fire and Emergency District Manager Nick Pyatt said 52 people have been accounted for, but that a number still remained unaccounted for.
“I can sadly report that this will be a multi-fatality incident. Our thoughts at this time are with the families of those who have perished and with our crews who valiantly rescued those (they could) and attempted to rescue those that they couldn’t,” Pyatt told reporters.
“This is our worst nightmare,” Pyatt said. “It doesn’t get worse than this.”Police can confirm a number of fatalities following the fire in central Wellington this morning.
Officers remain at the scene at Loafers Lodge on Adelaide Road where fire broke out around 12:30am.
“Our initial assessment is that the number of deceased is fewer than 10, however, we are not in a position to be any more specific until we can access the building.
“It is currently unsafe and until we can access the building – and reconcile numbers of people who are safe – we are not in a position to determine how many people are deceased or unaccounted for. Our focus is on identifying those people as soon as we can.
“We are asking people to please come forward if they, or someone they know, has been staying at the property, so we can eliminate them from our inquiries.
“At the stage the cause of the fire is unexplained, and Police will be working alongside FENZ to determine cause”, he said.
Adelaide Road between John Street and the Basin Reserve is expected to remain closed for much of the day while Fire and Emergency NZ work at the scene alongside Police.