Police say 'there appear to have been fatalities' in A1M crash
Police say more than one person may have died in a crash which has closed the A1M in Country Durham.
The motorway is shut in both directions between Junction 60 for the A690 at Bowburn and Junction 62 for the A690 at Carrville.
Emergency services – including the air ambulance – were called to the scene of a multi-vehicle collision across both carriageways shortly before 6.30pm.
Durham Constabulary has now said it is believed people have died.
A statement said: “The incident happened at 6.20pm today 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.”
A County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service statement said: “Reports of a serious collision on the A1 near Coxhoe came into our control room at 6.20pm tonight (Thursday, July, 15).
"Seven crews, along with the incident command unit, senior officers all attended, along with a crew and a Heavy Rescue Unit from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service
“On arrival at the scene, crews were faced with a multi-vehicle collision across both carriageways and a heavy goods vehicle well alight. Firefighters worked for over an hour to ensure the fire was under control as well assisting colleagues from the North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust and Great North Air Ambulance Service with casualties.
“Sadly, Durham Constabulary have tonight, confirmed that there appear to be fatalities at the scene.”
The road is expected to remain closed for several hours while emergency services, including police, fire and the ambulance service, work at the scene and police are asking drivers to avoid the area and plan ahead if they are travelling this evening.
The force has also made an urgent appeal for any motorists who have dashcam footage of the incident to get in touch as soon as possible.
Anyone who is able to help should contact the force control room on 101, quoting incident number 322 of July 15.
Highways England has said that all emergency services are in attendance.
The agency Tweeted: “#CountyDurham please be aware the #A1M is CLOSED in both directions between J60 #A689 #Bradbury and J62 #A690 #Durham due to a serious collision.
"All emergency services are in attendance. Please plan ahead if travelling this evening.”
Firefighters from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service have been joined by colleagues from the Tyne and Wear Brigade at the scene.
And the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) has appealed for patience attending other incidents, saying it is ‘incredibly busy dealing with this incident at the moment’.
The service Tweeted: “If you’re currently waiting for an ambulance, please bear with us and don’t call us back unless your condition worsens.”
A NEAS spokesperson said, “We received a call at 18:20 this evening to reports of a collision between a heavy goods vehicle and multiple vehicles on the A1 near Coxhoe.
"We have multiple resources on scene, including our Hazardous Air Response Team, two ambulance crews, a specialist paramedic and three officers, with support from the Great North Air Ambulance to treat multiple casualties alongside Police and fire colleagues.
“Other patients in the area may experience a delay in us reaching them and we urge anyone waiting for an ambulance to please bear with us and not call us back unless your condition worsens in case your call prevents someone who needs our help from getting through.”
Highways England has issued advice to drivers.
North bound traffic is advised to follow the solid black square diversion symbol on road signs before exiting the A1M at Junction 60 (Bradbury Interchange) and take the third exit onto the A689 eastbound.
They should then travel east on the A689 to its junction with the A177 and join the A177 northbound. From here continue on the A177 north towards Coxhoe.
At the A688 junction (Metal Bridge) join the westbound A688. At this point follow the solid black triangle diversion symbol on road signs before continuing west on the A688 to Thinford Roundabout where you join the A167 northbound.
Drivers should then continue north on the A167 passing Durham and Chester-le-Street to re-join the A1M at Junction 63.
Drivers heading southbound are advised to follow the solid black diamond diversion symbol on road signs before exiting the A1M at Junction 63 (Chester-le-Street Interchange) and take the third exit onto the A167 southbound.
Traffic should continue travelling south on the A167 passing Chester-le-Street and Durham before joining the A688 eastbound at Thinford roundabout. At this point drivers should follow the solid black circle diversion symbol on road signs to join the A177 south and continue south towards Sedgefield.
At the A689 junction please join the A689 westbound and continue west to re-join the A1M at Junction 60.
Highways England provides live traffic information via its website (www.highwaysengland.co.uk/traffic), local and national radio travel bulletins, electronic road signs and mobile apps. Updates will be published using Local Twitter services at @HighwaysNEAST.