Pakistan's statistics office said on Saturday that consumer price inflation in the country jumped to a record 35.37 percent year-on-year in March, while at least 16 people died in a stampede for food aid.

The bureau added that the inflation rate exceeded the 31.5% recorded in February, and the prices of food, beverages and transport rose by as much as 50% year-on-year.

Thousands gathered at flour distribution centres across the country, some as part of a government-backed programme to ease the fallout from inflation.

A spokesman for the statistics office said the inflation data was the highest ever year-on-year since monthly inflation data began to be recorded in the seventies.

The bureau reported that the consumer price index increased 3.72% in March on a monthly basis, due to higher prices for food, cooking oil and electricity.

Inflation is expected to remain at "high ... due to the relative supply and demand gap for basic commodities, the depreciation of the exchange rate, and the recent upward adjustment of gasoline and diesel prices," according to the Ministry of Finance.

Pakistan's economy is on the brink of collapse, and poor Pakistanis are suffering the brunt of the crisis. Things have been exacerbated by the global energy crisis and devastating floods that inundated a third of the country in 2022.

Pakistan now needs billions of dollars to service its debt as foreign exchange reserves dwindle and the rupee weakens.

The country of more than 220 million people is mired in debt and must raise taxes and raise the price of services to get $6.5 billion from the International Monetary Fund and avoid default.

Police and officials said at least 16, including 5 women and 3 children, had died in stampedes at the centres in recent days.

According to official records, thousands of sacks of flour were looted from trucks and distribution centres.