Police in Malawi have confirmed that eight people have died after a stampede at the Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.

The crush, which also left dozens injured, took place before an exhibition friendly match between top Malawian sides Nyasa Big Bullets and Silver Strikers.

According to the BBC, gates to the stadium had been due to open at 6:30am local time to allow free entry of fans into the 40,000-capacity venue, but this process was delayed by approximately three hours.

However, thousands of supporters had already arrived at the stadium and some attempted to force their way. Police responded by firing tear gas at the crowds in an effort to deter people from pushing forward.

Although the exact number of those injured in the crush is still unclear, Inspector General of Police, Lexan Kachama, told the Reuters news agency that he expected the total number of causalities to increase.

Despite the incident, officials decided to go ahead with the match and the Nyasa Big Bullets went on to win 2-1 in front of a packed crowd at the stadium.

However, President Peter Mutharika, who had been due to attend the match, was not present.

Speaking in the aftermath of the tragedy, Mutharika offered his condolences to those affected and said that the Malawi government will do all it can to help the families of those who were killed or injured in the crush.

Image: Nicholas Raymond