A mother and her seven children aged two to 14 died after a fire broke out while they slept in their house in northern France on Monday, police and firefighters said.

The blaze broke out shortly after midnight in the family home in the town of Charly-sur-Marne, some 80 kilometres (50 miles) east of Paris.

Neighbours called the fire department to report the blaze just before 1:00 am (0000 GMT).

The woman's husband, father to three of the children, was seriously burned and transferred to a hospital, they said.

The children included five girls and two boys. Four of them were from the mother's previous relationship.