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Source: New Zealand Police (District News)

To be attributed to Inspector Dion Bennett, Acting Wellington District Commander:

Police have this morning begun a scene examination at Loafers Lodge, following the tragic fire earlier this week.

A reconnaissance team conducted an initial, preparatory examination of the building yesterday afternoon.

The team reported significant damage to the interior of the building, confirming debris up to one metre high in some places.

The scene examination, which will involve Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) officers, will be a methodical and painstaking process.

The recovery of those who lost their lives in the fire will be the immediate priority for the team, and that recovery is expected to begin today.

We anticipate recovering two of the deceased today and two tomorrow.

Further updates on recovery will be made as and when we are able.

The scene examination is expected to take several days.

Adelaide Road between the Basin Reserve and Hospital Road is open to residents and businesses within the cordon only at this stage.

The road remains closed to everyone but emergency services between Hospital Road and John Street.

Police are working with urgency to enable at least one lane of Adelaide Road to be opened, to ease the traffic disruption that the full closure has caused.

We would like to extend our thanks to the businesses and nearby residents who have been most impacted by the road closure.

Your support and cooperation has been appreciated and our intent is to return to business as usual operations as quickly as possible.

Police continue to work with our partner agencies to support those residents who were evacuated from Loafers Lodge following the fire.

We know residents have many questions about when they may be able to access the building and retrieve property left behind when they evacuated.

Once the scene examination is complete, an assessment will have to be made as to whether it is safe for property in the building to be retrieved and returned to residents.

Included in these considerations will be any health and safety risks to residents in returning items which may have been contaminated by fire damage and asbestos.

We will work with Wellington City Council to ensure that residents are kept up to date with information in this regard.

Any residents with concerns or questions are asked to contact the property manager about access or the Wellington City Council Welfare team via the WCC contact centre on  04 499 4444.

This is an incredibly difficult time for all those impacted by this tragedy, particularly those who are still waiting for news of their loved ones.

I can assure you that we are doing everything we can to recover those who lost their lives as quickly as possible, so that identification processes can commence and we can get you the answers you need.


Issued by Police Media Centre