Loafers Lodge fire: Formal identification process 'moving swiftly', donations flow in for those displaced

By Hamish Cardwell for RNZ

It is not clear how many bodies remain in a burnt out hostel in Wellington, with none removed from the building since Saturday.

Five people are confirmed dead from the blaze in Newtown last week.

Their bodies are with the Coroner to be officially identified.

Police said the formal identification process was "moving swiftly".

The final death toll is expected to be fewer than 10.

Heavy rain over the weekend made extra checks necessary to ensure the building was safe to work in for crews investigating and recovering bodies.

The detailed forensic scene examination will continue this week.

Mayor Tory Whanau has asked people to be patient while authorities work to recover and identify the dead.

She said a memorial - to be organised by her office and the Downtown City Mission - would be held once it was known who the victims were.

The building was not required to have a sprinkler system, and had passed recent building checks.

Whanau said council staff were investigating how many other buildings in the capital could be in a similar state.

She expected to get initial scoping information back in a couple of days.

While the building was compliant with the rules, Whanau said she believed legislative building standards were not up to scratch.

More donations likely, money starting to be spent

As of Friday about $250,000 had been donated, and an update is due on Monday.

Whanau expected the amount to have increased "quite a bit" over the weekend and was aware of at least one pledge of $18,000.

She said an initial payment of $500 had been given to displaced residents to buy day-to-day items, and to families of the dead to help with costs to travel to Wellington.

Whanau said she had an emotional conversation with a resident who fled the flames the night of the fatal hostel fire.

The man lived on the third floor - where residents say the blaze started.

"We held hands as he talked about his grief and what he was going through emotionally.

"I was incredibly moved."