Seven persons, including four children, were burnt alive as a fire swept through a colony of construction workers in Medchal mandal of Ranga Reddy district of Andhra Pradesh on Saturday afternoon, said the police.
The fire, which broke out in a hut, spread and gutted nearly 100 shanties in Gundlapochampally village at around 1 pm, they said.
"The exact cause is yet to be ascertained. The fire spread immediately after the explosion of a few cooking gas cylinders in the huts," a senior police officer said when asked about the cause of the blaze.
The victims were from families of construction labourers and hailed from Mahabubnagar and Medak districts.
"Most labourers had left for work at the time (of the incident). The cause of the fire was being verified. An explosion of cooking gas cylinder was heard as the fire spread," said Cyberabad Police Commissioner Dwarka Tirumala Rao after visiting the spot.
The deceased were identified as B Walibi, Mohammad Khaja, Triveni, Taiappa, hailing from Mahbubnagar district, Ranjita and her two children Vishal and Achal, belonging to Madhya Pradesh, said the police.
It took three fire engines nearly two and half hours to extinguish the fire, police said.
Andhra Pradesh Home Minister Sabitha Indra Reddy, who visited the spot, told reporters that the government would extend necessary financial aid to the kin of the victims.
"Police are ascertaining whether it was accidental fire. District authorities have been asked to make arrangements for compensation and shelter and also food for all those affected in the incident," she said.
Meanwhile, expressing shock over the incident, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy said he had instructed the Ranga Reddy district collector to personally supervise and provide relief measures including medical aid.
He also asked the district collector and other officials to constantly monitor the situation and take all required relief measures, according to an official release.