Seven die in icy chaos on main roads

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AT LEAST seven motorists died and scores were injured as icy conditions and freezing fog brought chaos to the motorway system in the Midlands and northern England yesterday, writes Michael Durham.

Roads were closed in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire as dozens of accidents were reported in thick fog. A 19-mile tailback halted traffic on the M1 after a multiple pile-up which killed three people near Alfreton, Derbyshire.

The weather centre said freezing conditions and poor visibility would continue today and probably worsen tonight, everywhere 'north of Oxfordshire'. The RAC advised drivers to use extreme caution.

Police said three people died in the M1 accident on the southbound carriageway, involving a bus, a lorry and several cars. Visibility was only 50 yards. The M1 was closed in both directions over a seven-mile stretch after a series of minor crashes.

On the M62 at Ainley Top, near Huddersfield in West Yorkshire, 60 vehicles were involved in a pile- up in which one man died and four people were seriously injured. One of the vehicles was believed to be an oil tanker which caught fire.

Visibility was down to 25 yards when the crash happened, just after midday on the westbound carriageway. There were long tailbacks and road closures from earlier accidents on both carriageways.

On the A38 in Derbyshire, one man died in an accident in freezing fog at Ripley. Two people died and 39 were injured in a string of accidents on the A1 and A1M in South and West Yorkshire. Police closed long stretches of the road as visibility sank to 20 yards. A spokesman said drivers were travelling far too fast.