Giant sinkhole opens up on the M5 and closes two lanes of traffic near the Cotswolds

Travel chaos has hit two of Britain’s motorways as a giant sinkhole has closed two lanes on the M5 and caused damage to several vehicles, while a car was completely destroyed by flames on the M4, causing miles of tailbacks.   

A sinkhole shut down two lanes of traffic on the M5’s northbound carriageway between junction eight for the M50 interchange and junction nine at Strensham, Worcestershire, on Saturday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the M4 was also hit with miles of tailbacks after a small car was left ‘100 per cent destroyed’ by flames after it caught fire on the hard shoulder of the motorway near Swindon at around 3.30pm.

On the busy M5 near the Cotswolds, there have been delays of more than one hour a massive cavity around six inches deep and a foot long opened up on the motorway.

The cavity was in the second lane of the northbound carriageway and caused damage to several vehicles, which are now on the hard shoulder, according to Gloucestershire Police.

A sinkhole has damaged cars and shut down two lanes of traffic on the M5's northbound carriageway between junction eight and junction nine at Strensham, Worcestershire

A sinkhole has damaged cars and shut down two lanes of traffic on the M5's northbound carriageway between junction eight and junction nine at Strensham, Worcestershire

A sinkhole has damaged cars and shut down two lanes of traffic on the M5’s northbound carriageway between junction eight and junction nine at Strensham, Worcestershire

Meanwhile, a private vehicle was left completely destroyed after it caught fire on the hard shoulder of the M4 just before 3.30pm on Saturday

Meanwhile, a private vehicle was left completely destroyed after it caught fire on the hard shoulder of the M4 just before 3.30pm on Saturday

Meanwhile, a private vehicle was left completely destroyed after it caught fire on the hard shoulder of the M4 just before 3.30pm on Saturday

National Highways contractors and specialists are on the scene and repairs are already underway, while motorists were urged to seek alternative routes.

The cause of the sinkhole and the nature of the defect have not yet been confirmed.

A tweet from National Highways South-West read: ‘There are delays of over an hour on the M5 northbound in Gloucestershire due to emergency road surface repairs taking place between J9 (Tewkesbury) and J8 (for the M50), where 2 (of 3) lanes are closed.

‘National Highways contractors and specialists are in attendance, and repairs will be taking place throughout the afternoon.

‘We strongly advise you allow extra time for your journey if you’re travelling in the area this afternoon, and consider alternative routes if at all possible.

‘Further incident information is available from National Highways by visiting our www.trafficengland.com website and travel apps. Our 24/7 Customer Contact Centre is also available to provide up to the minute information on 0300 123 5000.’

Gloucestershire Police tweeted: ‘Lanes 1 & 2 are closed on the M5 NB carriageway between J9 for Tewkesbury and J8 for the M50 interchange. 

‘This is due to a hole in the second lane – several cars have sustained damage. This is expected to cause delays/tailbacks – motorists are advised to seek alternative routes.’

Elsewhere, a private vehicle was left completely destroyed after it caught fire on the hard shoulder of the westbound M4 just before 3.30pm on Saturday. 

The small car was left '100 per cent destroyed' by the flames, according to Dorset and Wiltshire fire service

The small car was left '100 per cent destroyed' by the flames, according to Dorset and Wiltshire fire service

The small car was left ‘100 per cent destroyed’ by the flames, according to Dorset and Wiltshire fire service

Fire crews from Swindon and Newbury stations rushed to the scene at 3.30pm after reports of a small vehicle fire on the M4 westbound between junction 14 and 15

Fire crews from Swindon and Newbury stations rushed to the scene at 3.30pm after reports of a small vehicle fire on the M4 westbound between junction 14 and 15

Fire crews from Swindon and Newbury stations rushed to the scene at 3.30pm after reports of a small vehicle fire on the M4 westbound between junction 14 and 15

The small car was left ‘100 per cent destroyed’ by the flames but the driver remarkably managed to escape the blaze, according to Dorset and Wiltshire fire service. 

On the M4, dramatic photographs showed queues of traffic at a complete standstill for more than a mile as smoke billowed into the air further up the motorway.

Fire crews from Swindon and Newbury stations rushed to the scene at 3.30pm after reports of a small vehicle fire on the M4 westbound between junction 14 to Hungerford and junction 15 to Swindon.

The driver and passengers in the vehicle miraculously escaped the blaze, with Dorset and Wiltshire fire service confirming that no casualties were reported.

National Highways South East closed two out of three lanes between junctions 14 and 15 while the fire was dealt with.

At 5pm, just one-and-a-half hours after the blaze, there were delays of around 30 minutes and 1.5miles of congestion on the approach to the blaze.

The driver and passengers in the vehicle miraculously escaped the blaze. All the occupants were accounted for and away from the car at the time, the fire service confirmed

The driver and passengers in the vehicle miraculously escaped the blaze. All the occupants were accounted for and away from the car at the time, the fire service confirmed

The driver and passengers in the vehicle miraculously escaped the blaze. All the occupants were accounted for and away from the car at the time, the fire service confirmed

Dramatic photographs showed queues of traffic at a complete standstill on the M4 as smoke was seen billowing into the air further up the motorway

Dramatic photographs showed queues of traffic at a complete standstill on the M4 as smoke was seen billowing into the air further up the motorway

Dramatic photographs showed queues of traffic at a complete standstill on the M4 as smoke was seen billowing into the air further up the motorway

National Highways South East closed two out of three lanes between junctions 14 and 15 while the fire was dealt with. The lanes have since been reopened

National Highways South East closed two out of three lanes between junctions 14 and 15 while the fire was dealt with. The lanes have since been reopened

National Highways South East closed two out of three lanes between junctions 14 and 15 while the fire was dealt with. The lanes have since been reopened

All lanes were reopened at 5.40pm while there are still delays of around 10 minutes in the area, according to Highways England. 

Two pumps, one from Swindon fire service and one from Newbury, attended the fire and used a hose reel to extinguish the flames. They left the scene just after 5pm.

Traffic is expected to have cleared on the motorway from around 5.30pm, Highways England travel updates said.

A Twitter statement from Newbury Fire Station said: ‘JY04P1 currently attending a car fire on the M4 westbound J14 to 15 with @SwindonFireStn. Expect delays!’

A National Highways South East spokesperson said: ‘We were called at 3:30pm today to a small vehicle fire on the M4a West Membury Service. 

‘One crew from Swindon attended along with appliances form Oxfordshire FRS. 

‘On arrival crews found one car well alight, two breathing apparatus wearers used one hose reel jet to extinguish the fire but the vehicle was completely destroyed. 

‘The stop message came in at 4:45pm and crews left the scene just after 5pm. No casualties were reported.’ 

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