Baby found dead in stricken migrant boat heading for Italy

LAMPEDUSA, Italy (Reuters) - The body of a five-month-old baby was found on Tuesday when some 85 migrants heading for Italy from Tunisia were rescued from distress at sea, according to a Reuters witness.

The infant girl, her mother and 4-year-old sister were in an unseaworthy boat laden with migrants that had set off from Sfax in Tunisia two days earlier bound for Italy, according to charity group SOS Humanity.

SOS Humanity workers aboard its "Humanity 1" vessel found many of the migrants exhausted and suffering from seasickness and fuel burns as they were rescued before dawn on Tuesday, the group said in a statement.

Some 185 migrants rescued in separate operations this week, including the stricken boat overnight, were being taken aboard "Humanity 1" to the port of Livorno in northwest Italy. Another 120 migrants were transferred by coastguard boat to the Italian island of Lampedusa in the southern Mediterranean.

Tunisia is grappling with a migrant crisis and has replaced Libya as the main departure point for people fleeing poverty and conflict further south in Africa as well as the Middle East in hopes of a better life in Europe.

Italy has sought to curb migrant arrivals from Africa, making it harder charity ships to operate in the Mediterranean, limiting the number of rescues they can carry out and often forcing them to make huge detours to bring migrants ashore.

(Reporting by Yesim Dikmen; editing by Mark Heinrich)