One person has died and 10 others have been injured in a series of crashes in thick fog on a stretch of the A19 in County Durham.
The first crash, involving two fuel tankers, two lorries and a car happened on the southbound carriageway between Peterlee and Wellfield on Friday night. While police and fire crews dealt with the incident, there were two further collisions involving 21 vehicles. It is thought the person killed was in a car trapped between the two tankers. No details about their identity have been released.
The second crash, on the northbound carriageway, involved 18 vehicles, and the third - on the Wellfield Sliproad - involved three vehicles, including a police car.
A police spokesman said: "Thick fog on the east coast is thought to have been a contributory factor in what happened and police are urging drivers to avoid the area."
David Turnbull, the fire officer in charge, said emergency crews helped rescue five people who were trapped in vehicles. He said crews stationed close to the scene heard a series of loud bangs.
"When they responded they found absolute devastation on the fly-over adjacent to the fire station - 20 to 30 cars, a large number of HGVs, two petrol tankers and a large number of people trapped."
He added: "It could have been a lot worse. When you have a scene like that, with so many vehicles involved, it's surprising more people weren't seriously hurt."
The North East Ambulance Service said a man, aged 47, suffered abdominal and shoulder injuries, while a 50-year-old man sustained head injuries. They were taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital, along with two other men in their late teens and two women with two children, who all suffered minor injuries.
Another man, aged 25, and a 27-year-old man, both with back and neck injuries, were taken to North Tees General Hospital.
Work to clear the wreckage has been ongoing, and crews had to cut away a 20m (66ft) section of the central barrier so vehicles could be pulled away from the crush. Fire crews were also draining the tankers of fuel to allow them to be moved.The A19 is expected to remain closed in both directions for several hours. Source