NEW DELHI, April 21 (Xinhua) -- At least 19 people were killed Friday in a devastating fire at a public distribution system (PDS) shop in central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, police said.
The fire broke out at Bargi-Harria village of Chhindwara district, about 272 km southeast of Bhopal, the capital city of Madhya Pradesh.
"This afternoon a fire broke out at a PDS shop and it resulted in killing 19 people," a police official posted at Harria told Xinhua over telephone. "We have rushed police to the spot to take injured to hospitals besides overseeing firefighting operations and retrieving bodies."
PDS shops in India are meant to provide food grains, flour, sugar and kerosene to people at subsidised rates. According to locals, the people had assembled at the shop to purchase kerosene and food grains.
Police officials said they were investigating the cause of the fire.
"Initial reports suggest kerosene stored at the shop caught fire and immediately took the entire shop in its grip," a local resident said.
According to police, efforts to retrieve charred bodies from the ruins of the shop were going on.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chouhan has expressed grief over the deaths and announced a compensation of 6,000 U.S. dollars to each of the families killed in the blaze besides 772 U.S. dollars to each of the injured in the incident.
Chances of fire in Indian are usually high as people usually ignore safety standards vis-a-vis fire and store fuel and combustible materials in a haphazard manner.