Queensland Police have launched an investigation after two young boys were found dead inside an unused vehicle in a remote Indigenous community in Queensland.

Officers said a two-year-old boy was found inside a parked car in the backyard of a house on Richardson Street, Woorabinda, 170km southwest of Rockhampton, about 6.15pm on Friday.

The toddler was rushed to the local hospital by his parents but was declared dead.

Police attended the same address in Woorabinda about three hours later and found the unresponsive body of a three-year-old boy inside the same car.

Central Region Crime Co-ordinator Darrin Shadlow said the older boy had not been found with the two-year-old because he was initially hidden from view.

“The second child was lying down in the rear footwell of the vehicle and wasn’t seen by the residents when they located the first child,” he told reporters in Rockhampton on Saturday.

Police said the boys were related but were not siblings – one lived in Woorabinda and the other was visiting with relatives.

They said the car the boys were found inside was in the backyard of a family home and had not been driven for an extended period.

“It appears it is a tragic accident with the children, who have somehow gotten into the vehicle and have been there for some time,” Det Sup Shadlow said.

While it was too early to confirm a cause of death, he said it appeared heatstroke was a factor.

“It would appear from early investigations that there was heat-related stress,” he said.