20 May 2023

Loafers Lodge fire: Fifth body recovered from the scene

4:20 pm on 20 May 2023
Emergency tape remains at the scene of a fatal fire at Loafers Lodge in Wellington on 16 May, 2023.

Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Police have confirmed this afternoon that a fifth body has been removed from the scene of this week's fatal fire at the Loafers Lodge in Wellington.

Four bodies were recovered yesterday, after the blaze in the Wellington suburb of Newtown on Monday night.

In a statement, acting Wellington District Commander Inspector Dion Bennett said police were now working to formally identify the fifth victim, along with the four recovered yesterday.

Bennett said police teams were still working on a detailed forensic scene examination, which is expected to extend into next week.

"Our staff are also continuing to contact families of those who were staying at Loafers Lodge who have been accounted for, so we can reassure them their loved ones are safe."

The number of those accounted for remains at 99, and police have said the number of dead is less than 10, although a definite death toll has not yet been established.

"If you have made a report to police of a missing loved one, and have since made contact with them, please get in touch with police and quote Operation Rose," Bennett said.

A man was arrested on Thursday and charged with two counts of arson - one in relation to a couch fire on the third floor of the hostel on Monday night and the second in relation to the blaze set on the building itself.

He appeared in the Wellington District Court yesterday, where the judge ordered he be given interim name suppression.

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