Possibility of death toll rising in Loafers Lodge tragedy 'weighing heavily' on Wellington's Mayor

The man arrested in relation to the Loafers Lodge fire appeared agitated during his first appearance at the Wellington District Court on Friday.

The man, who has been granted interim name suppression, waved hand signs and pulled faces at media.

Police announced on Thursday night they had charged a man with two counts of arson.

While Judge Jan Kelly was addressing the court, the defendant pointed at his lawyer and attempted to fire him.

"I need a good lawyer."

As Judge Kelly read through the arson charges the defendant, who was wearing a black hoodie, shouted that he didn't commit the crimes.

"I did nothing wrong - it wasn't me," he said.

The man has been remanded in custody until his next appearance on June 19.

"We still have people unaccounted for"

The possibility of the death toll climbing in the Loafers Lodge tragedy is "weighing heavily" on Wellington's Mayor Tory Whanau.

Speaking to Newshub on Friday afternoon, Whanau said she is "deeply anxious" about the number of people who are still unaccounted for.

"That's still creating quite a bit of anxiety and sadness across our city," Whanau said.

"The biggest concern that I have is what is happening inside the building right now. Council supports the police in what they need to do, but we still have people unaccounted for."

Whanau told Newshub she feels "a sense of relief" in herself and among Wellingtonians that police made an arrest on Thursday.

"But mainly I feel sadness, I feel deep sadness for what has happened."

She applauded emergency services for their "phenomenal" efforts to make an arrest.

"I have a deep sense of pride for our police, for FENZ (Fire and Emergency New Zealand), for Wellington Ambulance."

Whanau said her Mayoral Relief Fund had raised a quarter of a million dollars so far.

The man arrested by Wellington police in relation to the devastating fire at Loafers Lodge will appear in the Wellington Court on Friday morning.

Wellington police confirmed on Thursday officers arrested a man in relation to the fire that killed at least six people on Monday night.

The man has been charged with two counts of arson and is scheduled to appear in Wellington District Court on Friday.

The investigation into the fire is ongoing and police said they have not ruled out further, more serious charges in relation to the deaths at the scene.

Acting Wellington District Commander Inspector Dion Bennett said he is confident that police are not seeking anyone else in relation to the fire.

As the matter is now before the Court, police are unable to provide further comment at this stage.

Chief Coroner update

Chief Coroner Judge Anna Tutton says the disaster victim identification process is now underway for the victims of the Loafers Lodge fire.

Judge Tutton said the first bodies were recovered from the building on Friday and taken to the Wellington Hosptial mortuary, with other victims expected to be recovered in the coming days.

"We can now start working with Police and other specialists to determine the identification of those who have died. As I have said, this identification process can be lengthy and complex, requiring a careful and methodical approach to ensure there are no mistakes," Judge Tutton said.

"I would like to reiterate to the families and friends of those who have died as a result of the fire that the victims will be treated with dignity and respect as we work through this challenging process and we will endeavour to return them to you as quickly as we can."

The large blaze broke out at the hostel in Newtown where over 90 people resided.

Six deaths have been confirmed, but police fear that number could rise as officers enter the charred building to conduct a scene examination.

Earlier on Thursday, police recovered two bodies which will be taken to the mortuary, where there is a specific process for disaster victim identification.

While for the residents that survived, dozens have been left effectively homeless and without any possessions.

On Wednesday, police confirmed they are treating the fire as arson, essentially sparking a homicide inquiry into the tragedy that has rocked the community.

It is unknown whether the man arrested was a resident of the hostel.