Three people have been killed while two have been rushed to hospital with injuries after a heavy goods lorry smashed into four cars and and exploded on the A1 motorway, Durham Constabulary has said this afternoon.
Police said a man who was driving a Toyota Hilux and a man and a woman who were in a Vauxhall Crossland died after the horrific crash last night on the northbound carriageway of the A1(M) between Bradbury and Carville in County Durham, which remains closed.
Several others were injured in the collision, with two requiring treatment at University of North Durham Hospital. One of the lorry drivers, 41, has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and remains in police custody.
A spokesman for Durham Constabulary said formal identification is expected to take some time, though their families have been informed and are being supported by specially trained officers.
Highways England is asking drivers to avoid the area and allow extra time for their journeys.
Detective Superintendent Dave Ashton, who is leading the investigation, said: ‘This was a harrowing incident for everyone involved and our thoughts are with the family and friends of those who have lost their loved ones.
This is the shocking scene after a truck crossed the central reservation of the A1(M) outside Durham around 6.20pm last night
Several cars were badly damaged while a section of the central reservation was destroyed by the truck
The A1(M) has been closed in both directions while emergency services work at the scene
The A1(M) near Durham, which remains closed to traffic today following a crash last night
The crash happened on the A1(M) north of Bradbury in County Durham last night
‘It has been incredibly upsetting and distressing for those who witnessed the collision, and for the emergency responders, including police officers, firefighters and paramedics, who attended the scene.
‘We would therefore ask that people refrain from sharing photographs and videos from the collision out of dignity and respect for those who have lost their lives.
‘This will be an extremely complex and lengthy investigation as the site of the collision is spread over some distance, and many of the vehicles involved have been severely damaged.
‘The road will remain closed for the rest of the day to allow for specialist collision investigators to work at the scene and to establish the circumstances surrounding the incident.
‘The road will also need to be assessed for damage prior to reopening to ensure the safety of future road users. Therefore, motorists should avoid the area and plan ahead if they need to travel.
‘We understand the significant disruption that this incident has caused, and would like to thank people for their patience, understanding and cooperation while we work at the scene.’
Police appealed for dashcam footage to help explain what caused the fiery crash, which took place at around 6.20pm last night.
Durham police confirmed that there have been fatalities following the tragic crash which closed the A1(M) going both directions
One truck was badly burned out after it crossed the central reservation following the incident
Several cars and two trucks were involved in the collision which took place around 6.20pm
Images from the scene showed a lorry had seemingly collided with several cars before smashing into the central reservation, partly crossing it, and catching fire.
Wreckage was strewn for several hundred feet down the road behind the lorry. One white Range Rover was particularly badly damaged, while other cars were written off.
Paramedics from the North East Ambulance Service and the Great North Air Ambulance were called. A NEAS spokeswoman said: ‘We took two people to the University of North Durham Hospital.’
Durham Constabulary are appealing for information, following the smash which took place at 6.30pm.
A police spokesperson previously said: ‘The incident happened at 6.20pm [on Thursday] on the northbound carriageway at Bowburn. It involved several vehicles, including two lorries, one of which caught fire as a result of the collision.
‘Sadly, there appear to have been fatalities. The road has been closed in both directions between Bradbury and Carrville. It is expected to remain closed for several hours while emergency services, including police, fire and the ambulance service, work at the scene.
‘We would ask that people avoid the area and plan ahead if they are travelling this evening.’
North East Ambulance service confirmed they are at the scene and this would have an impact on other areas.
A spokesperson said: ‘We’re incredibly busy dealing with this incident at the moment, which may mean other patients in the area experience a delay. If you’re currently waiting for an ambulance, please bear with us and don’t call us back unless your condition worsens.’