Loafers Lodge: Wellington police recover two bodies

Wellington police have recovered two bodies from Wellington's Loafers Lodge, with hopes of further recoveries expected on Friday.

The large blaze broke out at the hostel in the early hours of Tuesday morning on Adelaide Rd. 

So far, six deaths have been confirmed, but police fear that number could rise. 

Police confirmed on Wednesday they are treating the Loafers Lodge fire as arson after an "extensive and methodical" scene examination was conducted at the building.

"The damage on the third floor is significant and the debris is piled high and there is much to move and search underneath," Inspector Dion Bennett, Acting Wellington District Commander, said in an update on Thursday. 

In an update provided by police on Thursday evening, police said two deceased have been recovered from the six fatal victims.

A police spokesperson said Adelaide Rd will partially re-open from 6am on Friday.

The southbound lane will open under stop-go traffic management.

"We would again like to thank Wellingtonians – particularly those who work and live in the impacted area – for their support and cooperation this week while the road was fully closed."

A karakia will be conducted before the first body is removed. The bodies will then be taken to the mortuary, where there is a specific process for disaster victim identification.

He said he expects the scene examination to take "several days" and into the weekend, which will cause disruption to Adelaide Rd between the Basin Reserve and Hospital Rd. 

"However, that is open to residents and businesses within the cordon only at this stage," Bennett said. 

Inspector Dion Bennett, Acting Wellington District Commander.
Inspector Dion Bennett, Acting Wellington District Commander. Photo credit: Newshub

Bennett said they're working with urgency to be able to open one lane of Adelaide Rd to ease the traffic disruptions. For the residents that lived in Loafers Lodge before the blaze, they won't be able to retrieve any items until the scene examination is completed, he added. 

"Until the scene examination is completed, it will not be possible to retrieve any property from the building," he said.

"Also worth considering, is the property inside the building is damaged by fire and more importantly asbestos. There will need to be a decision made if it is safe to return that property."