MOTORISTS were stranded in their cars for eight hours last night after chaos struck on the M6 on one of the warmest days of the year.
Traffic queues stretched for 30 miles on the southbound side of the motorway after the incident between Junctions 33 and 34.
It stemmed from a collision between two heavy goods vehicles - one of which was a cement truck.
Officials said it ‘ruptured’, spilling cement powder, diesel and engine oil across three lanes and the hard shoulder between Junctions 33 and 34.
The incident happened at 2.40pm yesterday and left some people stranded in their cars for eight hours before they were diverted.
Police only declared the stretch of road safe to reopen at 8am this morning - 17 hours after the initial incident.
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A spokesperson for the Highways Agency said: “Unfortunately there was a very serious collision between two HGVs.
"A cement truck ruptured which contributed to a large quantity of diesel spilling along all the lanes."
As well as being cleared of the debris, the motorway stretch had to be resurfaced because of the corrosive effects of the materials spilt.
The Highways Agency said: "It’s not unusual in these circumstances for the diesel and oil to damage the top layer of the carriageway and that makes it unsafe for drivers to carry on driving.
"We would like to thank drivers for their patience in what was a very long and protracted incident. We worked hard to inform people from 3pm onwards.”
Motorist Matthew Jones, 21, was caught up in the tailbacks.
He said: “It was the worst traffic jam I’ve ever been involved in. I started queuing at 3.30pm just after leaving Kendal. People were getting out of their cars and sunbathing.
"I moved less than half a mile in three hours. By 10:30pm I’d just about reached Lancaster. I didn’t even have anything to drink but thankfully traffic officers were walking up and down handing out water.
"It was gone midnight by the time I got home. I can safely say that was the worst driving experience of my life.”
Due to the extremely hot weather conditions there were concerns that people would become dehydrated so officers on duty at the scene handed out water to many stranded drivers.
* Were you caught up in the tailbacks? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your stories and any photographs.