At least eight people have died and 28 others have been wounded in a stampede at an event where free food was distributed by a church group in Zambia's capital, Lusaka, according to local police.

The victims were among 35,000 people who had congregated at the Olympic Youth Development Centre in Lusaka on 5 March to attend a prayer event. Event organiser Lesedi Seven, which is part of the US based faith organisation Church of Christ, was due to start giving free food.

Police spokesperson, Esther Mwaata Katongo, was quoted by online publication Mwebantu as saying that among the dead were six females, one male adult and one male juvenile.

Five people died on the spot while the others succumbed to wounds as they were being driven to the hospital, police said.

"The injured are receiving treatment at Chingwere first level hospital and Chipata clinic while the bodies of the deceased have been taken to UTH mortuary," a police statement said.

On a post on Facebook, Mwebantu wrote: "On a sad note an outreach program for the Church of Christ at the Olympic Youth Development Centre in Lusaka, Zambia ends in a stampede for a free entrance and free food parcels and leaves eight people dead."

Reports indicated that up to 10 people may have died in the stampede but Mwaata Katongo put the figure down to eight.

Police confirmed they have launched an inquiry.