An overcrowded ferry went down off the coast in a northern province, and 17 people are feared drowned, according to reports from Mozambique's government.

Government spokesman Abudo Momade says the ferry with a capacity of 40 set off from Niassa province in the southeastern African nation with 50 people early Tuesday.

After it sank, 26 passengers were rescued. So far, seven bodies have been recovered and the remaining 17 are feared drowned.