A three-year-old boy found dead on a daycare mini-bus may have been trapped on board all day as the outdoor temperature hit 34C.

The bus collected the boy from his family's home on Tuesday morning and was supposed to drop him off at a childcare centre.

But it is feared the youngster was missed during the morning run and left inside the mini-bus throughout the day as temperatures inside the parked vehicle soared.

Police delivered the heartbreaking news to the boy's mother after his body was found during the afternoon run in Edmonton, a suburb of Cairns, Australia.

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A senior detective gave no indication of how the boy died, saying an investigation had been launched and a file would be prepared for the coroner.

The boy was found dead inside the Goodstart Early Learning vehicle at about 3.15pm local time.

Photos of the scene show police tape surrounding the turquoise bus, which was parked against a kerb outside Hambledon State School.

Police said the boy was picked up from his home by the mini-bus in the morning, but the force could not confirm if he had been left in the vehicle throughout the day, ABC reported.

Goodstart Early Learning said in a statement it was "devastated by the death of a child in our care in Cairns earlier today".

The statement added: "We are working to support the entire centre team, our families and our children.

"The matter is now a police investigation and we will be working with the police, Department of Education (childhood education and care), and Workplace Health and Safety.

"Our thoughts are very much with the family of the child at this time."

A Queensland Police spokesperson said: "Police are investigating the death of a three-year-old boy in Edmonton today.

"The boy was located deceased on a mini-bus parked out the front of a school on Stokes Street at 3:15pm.

"Cairns detectives from the Child Protection Investigation Unit are investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident.

"A report will be prepared for the coroner."

Detective Inspector Jason Smith told 9News:"Investigations are currently continuing to work out the circumstances around that death.

"It's early days and a number of factors could be at play here and we'll investigate all possibilities.

"The death of any child is an awful thing which is why it's so important for us to get to the bottom of this.

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