Iran's President Hassan Rouhani says he regrets any troubles with the distribution of a food ration to the poor, following reports that three people have died waiting for the goods in subzero weather.

Local media have reported that three men died in recent days while standing in line in freezing temperatures. Authorities were quoted as saying they died because of the cold weather and previous heart problems.

Rouhani told state TV Thursday that he "as the president expresses regret if people have faced trouble in receiving the commodity basket."

The ration for the poor of a basket containing eggs, cooking oil, chicken, rice and cheese began under Rouhani's predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The distribution problems have been criticized by Rouhani's hard-line opponents as well as some of his supporters.