A ferry carrying passengers and cargo on East Africa's Lake Victoria has capsized and 28 people were missing and feared dead, Tanzanian police said Friday.

The MV Nyamanga was heading from the western port city of Bukoba to Mwanza on the southern shores of the lake, 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) west of Dar es Salaam, when it sank late Thursday night, police spokesman Juma Mtumwa said.

There were eight crew members aboard and they were among the missing, he said.

The ferry was believed lost about 25 kilometers (15 miles) off the coast, along the 160- kilometer (100-mile) route across the lake.

"Our people lost their lives, they drowned in Lake Victoria," Mtumwa said, adding that details were sketchy and authorities were investigating.

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The vessel was carrying 20 tones of cargo, including 2,000 crates of soft drinks and mineral water, and 4,000 crates of empty soft drink bottles, he said.

In 1996, an overloaded passenger ship, the MV Bukoba, sank in Lake Victoria a few kilometers (miles) from Mwanza and killed more than 1,000 people.

Overloaded boats frequently capsize on Africa's largest lake, leaving dozens of people dead every year. Because of poor roads around the lake, residents rely on locally built, poorly designed ships to cross Lake Victoria.