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Newtown fire update – 4 victims now removed from scene, man charged with 2 counts of arson

Updates on the fatal fire at Loafer’s Lodge in Wellington.

Man charged with two counts of arson

Wellington Police have arrested a man in relation to the fire at Loafers Lodge on Tuesday morning.

The man has been charged with two counts of arson and was scheduled to appear in Wellington District Court today.

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

Acting Wellington District Commander Inspector Dion Bennett 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.

Four victims now removed from scene

Four victims have now been recovered from Loafers Lodge in Newtown.

Two were recovered today, in addition to the two recovered yesterday.

A fifth has been located and is yet to be recovered.

‘I want to acknowledge the difficult conditions our staff, FENZ colleagues, and supporting agencies are working in at the scene,’ said Inspector Dion Bennett, Acting Wellington District Commander.

‘The work they’ve done to date is impressive and we are thankful for their efforts.

‘We know how important it is to locate everyone and reunite them with loved ones.

‘The scene examination is ongoing and is expected to extend into next week.

‘The investigation team has moved swiftly and it’s not by chance that we now have a man remanded in custody for arson.

‘We cannot rule out further, more serious charges.’

The arrested man is due to reappear in Wellington District Court on June 19.

Police have now accounted for 99 people who were in the building.

The number of those unaccounted for is fewer than 10.

‘Until we have fully examined all parts of the building, we remain reluctant to confirm specific numbers of deceased and unaccounted for.

‘Police want to advise those who require help, or those who want to offer assistance, to get in touch with the Wellington City Council’s contact centre, which is 24/7.

‘The current traffic management plan will remain in place for the foreseeable future, and we thank those businesses and residents who have been affected by this.

‘A cordon will remain around Loafers Lodge into next week.

‘Police’s position around whether residents will be able to retrieve their property remains the same – that at this stage, it remains unsafe to do so.’

Image credit: Kindel Media

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