A major rescue operation has been launched after an articulated truck jack-knifed and burst into flames after crossing the central reservation on the A1(M) motorway outside Durham.
The highway has been closed in both directions between Bradbury and Carville after the incident.
The tractor unit crossed the wire central reservation before coming to a halt.
Emergency services are at the scene, which has seen the truck lying on its side on flames. At least three cars have suffered major damage.
Durham Constabulary confirmed that there are likely to be fatalities following this evening’s crash.
This is the shocking scene after a truck crossed the central reservation of the A1(M) outside Durham around 6pm this evening
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
Durham Constabulary are appealing for information, following the smash which took place at 6.30pm.
A police spokesperson 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. 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.’
Highways England believe the road will be closed in both directions for several hours.
Police have issued an appeal for information and want to see any dashcam footage anyone may have captured of the crash.
Witnesses are asked to call 101 and quote incident number 332 of July 15.