The bodies of the five children, all boys around 10 years old, were found by a trash collector in the cart in Guizhou Province's Bijie City, on Friday morning, Beijing News reported.
The report said police have ruled out the possibility of murder.
The boys were suspected to have suffocated as they tried to sleep in the cart to survive the cold night.
According to photos uploaded by netizens, the trash cart was about 1.5 metres long, 1.3 metres wide, and the lid could be airtight.
Further investigation is underway.
Bijie is a mountainous city located in northwest Guizhou, 200 km away from the provincial capital of Guiyang.
It drizzled Friday night and the low temperature hit six degrees Celsius, according to the local weather report, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Beijing: In a tragic incident, five street children were found dead in a trash cart, where they took refuge to escape the cold, in southwest China.
First Published: Sunday, November 18, 2012, 13:46