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Wellington, May 16 – At least six people died and an unknown number of persons remain unaccounted for after a fire ripped through a hostel in New Zealand’s capital Wellington on Tuesday, authorities confirmed.
Emergency services were called to the four-storey Loafers Lodge hostel just after midnight on Tuesday, reports the BBC.
Dozens were rescued from the building, but police said a number of people remained unaccounted for.
Upon arrival at the scene, firefighters found the top level of the building ablaze.
By 4 a.m., at least 20 fire trucks were involved to help douse the fire.
Fire and Emergency District commander Nick Pyatt described the blaze as Wellington’s “worst nightmare”.
Authorities rescued at least five people from the roof of the burning building and one person sustained serious injuries after jumping from the third floor of the building, the BBC quoted local media as saying.
In a statement, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said the death toll was likely to increase and described the fire as “tragic”.
He paid tribute to local firefighters “who have put themselves in harm’s way over past hours to get people out of the building and put the fire out”, the NZ Herald reported.
“It’s an absolute tragedy and you know, Wellington is a small close-knit community,” he told the local media.
The cause of the blaze is currently unknown.