13 villagers killed in massive fire

Four women were among the dead while four other people were injured in the incident, one of them critically.

Indian Police

Villagers had gathered at the centre in Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh state to collect their monthly rations of subsidised wheat and kerosene oil when the fire engulfed the warehouse.

"It appears that the kerosene tanker which was parked outside first caught fire which quickly spread inside the building," district police superintendent Gourav Tiwari told AFP.

"Since there was only one point for entry and exit, people got trapped inside the building."

India runs one of the world's biggest public distribution system for the poor, covering 67 percent of the total population of 1.2 billion.

Accidental fires are common across the country because of poor safety standards and lax enforcement of existing regulations.

Five factory workers were burnt to death earlier this month in western Jaipur city after tons of molten rubber leaked at a tyre manufacturing unit.

In February, six workers were burnt alive at an air conditioning manufacturing unit in southern Hyderabad.

Last year 13 died at an illegal garment factory in New Delhi after a short circuit triggered a fire.

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