Searching for survivors near Christmas Island

A BABY boy is dead and other suspected asylum seekers are missing in the water after another boat tragedy off Christmas Island on Friday night.

Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare confirmed 88 people had been rescued about 87 nautical miles off Christmas Island.

The boat is believed to have had up to 97 people on board.

"The search for survivors is continuing," Mr Clare said.

"The little baby boy was under one year of age. The passengers on the boat are from Iran, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka."

Authorities were alerted to the sinking boat on Friday morning by a Melbourne man who had been called by someone on the vessel.

He was able to provide partial GPS details, leading authorities to broadcast a call for assistance to boats in the area.

The federal police are believed to have then received calls directly from the sinking boat.