TWO HGV drivers have died following a serious accident on the M6 just south of Kendal this morning.

The accident, which happened between junctions 35 and 36 northbound at around 8.10am, involved eight vehicles - five HGVs, two cars and a van.

Police confirmed the drivers - one in a SPAR rigid heavy goods vehicle which was towing another trailer, and one driving a blue flat lorry, died at the scene.

The second driver is believed to be from the Southport area.

All the casualties involved in the collision have been taken to hospital via land or air ambulance.

More than 20 emergency service vehicles remain at the scene.

The other vehicles involved included a dark coloured Peugeot 307 which was driven by a woman from Lancaster.

She was trapped between two HGVs and suffered serious injuries, which are not thought to be life threatening at this time.

The driver of a silver Renault Trafic van was taken to Preston Royal Infirmary by air ambulance.

A silver Volkswagen Golf also suffered damage from the debris of the collision but the driver was uninjured.

The northbound carriageway of the M6 remains closed while the scene is cleared.

Cumbria Constabulary’s roads policing unit and collision investigators are on scene and have launched an investigation.

A police spokesman said specially-trained family liaison officers had been appointed and were ensuring that family members are supported and kept fully informed.

There are extensive delays in the area which are likely to continue for the foreseeable future while the scene is cleared. The Highways Agency said the northbound carriageway between junctions 35 and 36, and the sliproad at junction 36 are unlikely to reopen before 5pm.

Drivers are asked to use alternative routes wherever possible.

University of Central Lancashire journalism tutor Clare Cook, who was travelling southbound to work in Preston at the time of the accident, described the scene.

"Around 9am two police cars and an accident investigation unit came past us on the southbound carriageway, so we knew something had happened," she said.

"We were then stopped for about 15 minutes just after Kendal. It was very distressing with so many crews - North West Air Ambulance and several ambulances were there.

"All of their equipment was just strewn across all three lanes. At least a dozen of the paramedics and firefighters were around the cabin of one of the lorries. It looked like several people had to be cut free from various different vehicles."

The southbound carriageway of the M6 was closed temporarily to allow for two air ambulances to land.

Police said traffic is now able to move slowly on the southbound carriageway in the area, but urged motorists to avoid the area or delay their journey.

There are reports of queuing traffic on the A6 through Beetham, Milnthorpe and Warton as traffic is diverted from the motorway.

A rolling road block has been implemented on the northbound carriageway of the M6 from J34.

A spokesman for the Highways Agency said the northbound carriageway is likely to be closed for several hours for an accident investigation for vehicles to be removed.

"Drivers stuck between junction 35 and the incident are currently being turned around from the back of the queue and sent back down the carriageway towards junction 35.

"A diversion is in place from junction 35 with drivers being urged to follow the 'solid black triangle' - taking them via the A601(M) onto the northbound A6 through Milnthorpe and onto the eastbound A590 for junction 36.

"Traffic along the diversion route is likely to be very heavy and drivers may wish to avoid the area and seek an alternative route or delay their journeys."