A major fire engulfed a community centre in Nand Nagri, northeast Delhi, where eunuchs from across the country were holding a congregation Sunday night, killing 13 persons and leaving 35 with serious burns.

Police said the fire was probably caused by an electrical fault or short circuit in the kitchen of the community centre. The fire then reportedly spread to the area where there were gas cylinders and raged out of control.

The gathering at Nand Nagri was being attended by hundreds of eunuchs from all over India and neighbouring Bangladesh and Nepal. More than 4,000 eunuchs from across the country had reportedly gathered for the function that is held once in five years.

Local people helped put out the fire and took the injured to the hospital.

There are many eunuchs in India who traditionally survive by begging, dancing at weddings or blessing newborn babies.