At least seven people were killed and dozens more were injured in Nigeria's capital Abuja after thousands of panicked jobseekers stampeded during a government recruitment drive at the national stadium.

The stampede happened on Saturday as thousands gathered to apply for jobs with the immigration department in Abuja stadium.

One witness said the stampede broke out as applicants surged towards a central stage. They said only one entrance to the 60,000-capacity stadium was open. It was unclear how many people were inside at the time of the crush.

"I cannot even imagine the number of people that stamped on me," said survivor Rosemary Ogida. "I just remember being picked up by three men."

The young woman, who had regained consciousness at the hospital but could barely move her left leg, told AFP she was desperate after having lost the original of her university diploma in the stampede.

No official toll was given, but an AFP journalist at the scene counted seven dead and dozens injured.

The recruitment drive was being held at several stadiums around the country on Saturday.

Unemployment is a particular challenge in the west Africa country with an estimated 37.5 percent of people aged under 25 out of work, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

President Goodluck Jonathan's Peoples Democratic Party said it was "shocked and deeply saddened" by the deaths of "young citizens who were at the exercise not only to secure jobs but to be allowed the opportunity to contribute towards the development of the nation".

Source: AFP