NEW ZEALAND POLICE CHARGE SUSPECT AFTER DEADLY HOSTEL FIRE
Authorities in New Zealand have arrested a suspect in connection with a fire at the Loafers Lodge hostel. The fire, which occurred on August 17, killed at least six people. The man has been charged with two counts of arson, but the police have not ruled out “further, more serious charges in relation to the deaths at the scene.” Police have stated that they are not seeking anyone else in connection with the fire.
The Loafers Lodge hostel, situated in the city center, caught fire just after midnight on August 17. The top floor of the four-story building was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived at the scene. At least 52 people were evacuated from the hostel, and many of the building’s inhabitants were transient, making the identification of victims challenging.
TALA SILI RECOUNTS HIS EXPERIENCE
Tala Sili, a Loafers Lodge resident, spoke to CNN affiliate Radio NZ after surviving the fire. He reported that he saw smoke coming from under his door on the top floor of the hostel. In his escape, he jumped two floors onto the roof of a nearby building. Paramedics later rescued and treated him for a sprained ankle. Mr. Sili found the experience to be “really scary.”
INITIAL RESPONSE AND CONTINUING COOPERATION
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins visited the site on the day of the fire and expressed his sympathy for the victims and their loved ones. “We’ve not seen an event of this scale for quite some time,” he said. A mayoral relief fund has been set up through the Wellington City Mission for those impacted by the fire. Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau offered reassurances that most of the residents evacuated from the hostel were adequately assisted.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese spoke with Mr. Hipkins after the incident to offer condolences and aid as necessary to our friends across the Tasman. Mr. Albanese spoke to reporters in Melbourne, stating that “any assistance, of course, will be available from Australia to New Zealand.”
The circumstances surrounding the Loafers Lodge fire have yet to be fully explained. However, authorities in New Zealand are taking action through the arrest of a suspect. A significant number of the inhabitants lost everything they had, and our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones. As the situation develops, it is imperative that those able to provide relief and offer remote aid take action, and cooperate to the fullest extent to support the impacted community.
1. ‘Loafers Lodge’ fire: Police charge man with arson. (2021, August 19). BBC News. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-58220397
2. New Zealand police arrest man in connection with deadly hostel fire. (2021, August 20). Reuters. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/new-zealand-police-arrest-man-connection-with-deadly-hostel-fire-2021-08-20/
3. Welch, B. (2021, August 19). Fire at Loafers Lodge: What we know so far. RNZ. Retrieved from https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/449579/fire-at-loafers-lodge-what-we-know-so-far