Loafers Lodge fire: Australian PM Anthony Albanese says Wellington blaze is 'dreadful human tragedy'

Australian leaders have passed on their condolences following the large fire in Wellington, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese saying it's a "dreadful human tragedy". 

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed at least six people have died in the blaze at Loafers Lodge, a hostel offering short and long-term accommodation in the Wellington suburb of Newtown, while 11 remain unaccounted for. 

It's understood the fire broke out in the lounge area of the third floor before rapidly spreading. 

Albanese told local media he had spoken with his counterpart Chris Hipkins following the blaze to offer his condolences. 

"This is a dreadful human tragedy," Albanese told reporters in Melbourne.

"I expressed my condolences on behalf of Australia to our friends in New Zealand at this very difficult time." 

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says the Wellington blaze is a "dreadful human tragedy".
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says the Wellington blaze is a "dreadful human tragedy". Photo credit: Getty Images / Newshub

Albanese said Australia will be standing by to offer support to New Zealand if it's required.

"Any assistance of course will, as always, be available from Australia to New Zealand at what is a very difficult time," he said. 

"It is clear that there have been a number of deaths, the exact number may well rise."

Trade Minister Don Farrell wasn't able to confirm if any Australians were inside the hostel at the time of the blaze. 

"We're trying to get as many details as we can about what's happened, and in particular whether any Australians have been involved in this terrible fire," he said.

Opposition trade spokesman Simon Birmingham told Sky News the fire was a "tragedy" and Australians would join him in sending condolences to New Zealanders impacted by the blaze.

"This is a terrible tragedy and one that will be felt particularly right across New Zealand but especially so in the small community of Wellington," he said.

"It's a big task of recovery when we see a loss of life at such scale and there will be so many families, so many people affected."

Australian Senator Penny Wong also sent her condolences to everyone affected by the blaze. 

"My heartfelt condolences to all affected by the tragic fire in Wellington," Wong wrote on Twitter. 

"Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones, the courageous firefighters, the Wellington community and our Kiwi whanau."