NZ hostel fire was likely arson, six dead: police

STORY: The fire at a hostel in New Zealand that killed several people in the early hours of Tuesday (May 16) morning is now being treated as a suspected arson, and police have opened a homicide investigation.

The fire at the Loafers Lodge in a Wellington suburb has caused major structural damage which is hampering authorities' efforts. Some people are still missing.

The hostel provided accommodation for professions such as construction workers and hospital staff, but also those serving sentences for minor crimes.

"We are treating it as an arson. I'm not prepared to say why or the reasons for us treating it as an arson, other than to say that we are."

The exact cause has not been publicly identified, but police say there was a fire involving a couch in the building about two hours before the other much larger blaze. They are looking into any link between the two.