New Zealand Police to Start Removing Bodies After Hostel Fire

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand police expect to start removing bodies from the hostel in Wellington where at least six people died in a fire earlier this week, authorities said on Thursday.

A blaze broke out on the top floor of the Loafers Lodge in the suburb of Newtown in the early hours of Tuesday, causing major structural damage that has hampered efforts to get inside.

Police have said they suspect the fire was arson and have opened a homicide inquiry.

Inspector Dion Bennett, acting Wellington district commander, said a reconnaissance team conducted an initial preparatory examination of the building on Wednesday and expected to be able to bring out two bodies on Thursday and a further two on Friday.

“The scene examination is expected to take several days,” Bennett said, adding that police did not know how many people died in the fire.

(Reporting by Lucy Craymer; Editing by Jamie Freed)