A three-year-old boy has died after becoming trapped in the lift shaft of an office building in Galway city centre.

The boy was in the Hynes Building with his mother and siblings when he became separated from them and found his way into the lift shaft of the three-storey building.

The family had been visiting the Social Welfare office on the first floor of the building on Augustine Street.

Emergency services were called to the scene and the building was closed off for a time as they worked to reach the child.

Investigations centre on whether the boy may have crawled into a gap below the lift floor as it came to a stop.

His body was taken from the lift shaft shortly after 4pm and removed to University Hospital, Galway, where a post-mortem examination will be carried out tomorrow. 

Gardaí say the incident was a tragic accident and is not being treated as suspicious.

The child, whose parents are originally from Africa, lived in the Doughishka area of Galway City.

The scene will be preserved overnight, pending further investigations tomorrow.

Gardaí conducted an examination of the lift area in the building this evening and a preliminary inspection was subsequently carried out by the Health and Safety Authority.

Representatives from the HSA are expected back in the building in the morning.

They will be trying to determine the sequence of events that led to the child becoming trapped in the lift shaft.