At least 24 people have been killed and many more injured in a stampede at the end of a church vigil in eastern Nigeria, officials said.

Nineteen women were amongst the dead at the stampede in the Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Uke, Anambra state on Saturday, where around 100,000 worshippers had gathered for All Souls Day, Red Cross spokesman Peter Kachi told Reuters news agency by telephone.

Authorities did not know what caused the stampede which happened as followers celebrated an overnight vigil to mark All Saints' Day.

"There were too many people and the place was so overcrowded," Osmond Okoli, who narrowly survived being squashed
in the crowd, told local station Channels TV. "We were too compacted so people fell and they were being pushed on us and then we all began to shout from the ground."

The event had been attended hours earlier by the local Anambra state governor, Peter Obi. He later returned to the scene and visited the injured in hospital, promising to set up an inquiry to establish the cause of the accident.

Anambra is about 300km south of Abuja. Religious services gathering several hundred thousand people are common in Nigeria, a country of around 170 million split roughly evenly between Christians and Muslims.

Source: Agencies