Driv­ers trapped for 12 hours

Daily Star Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - ■ by WILL STONE sun­day@dai­

DRIV­ERS were stranded for 12 hours yes­ter­day af­ter a new se­cu­rity scare shut a mo­tor­way.

Bomb dis­posal ex­perts were called fol­low­ing re­ports of “haz­ardous ma­te­rial” near a bridge over the car­riage­way.

Thou­sands of mo­torists were caught up in the grid­lock on the M3 in Hamp­shire.

The mo­tor­way – the main route be­tween London and Southamp­ton – was closed be­tween junc­tions 9 and 11 af­ter emer­gency ser­vices were called just be­fore 4am.

Last night of­fi­cials said the pack­age ap­peared to con­tain hy­drochlo­ric acid.

On Tues­day the M1 was shut for nine hours af­ter a con­tainer of hy­drochlo­ric acid was left on the car­riage­way near Mil­ton Keynes, Bucks.

The M3 fi­nally re­opened at 3.30pm yes­ter­day.

Driv­ers and pas­sen­gers caught up in the chaos spoke of their or­deal.

Manch­ester United fan Paul Hib­bert was trav­el­ling with pals to see his team play Southamp­ton.

They de­cided to aban­don their coach and make the one-and-a-half mile jour­ney to Winch­ester sta­tion by foot along the hard shoul­der.

The 53-year-old said: “Peo­ple here are driv­ing up the hard shoul­der.

“One of those id­iots has hit a car that pulled out in front of him – it’s chaos.”

Others left their cars to walk to the near­est pub, while some were seen play­ing golf, hav­ing a pic­nic or do­ing hand­stands along the hard shoul­der.

Some mo­torists risked their lives by driv­ing the wrong way down the hard shoul­der to es­cape the tail­backs.

Writer Jenna Keat­ing, 31, from Wind­sor, said: “There are lots of peo­ple stranded here, peo­ple have got out of their cars to stretch their legs and things, but some are just turn­ing round and go­ing back down the hard shoul­der.

“We ac­tu­ally spoke to po­lice about this to see whether this was some­thing we could do in the cir­cum­stances and they said, ‘ab­so­lutely not’.

“I can’t think it’s a good idea to use the hard shoul­der – there have been a cou­ple of un­marked ve­hi­cles with sirens blar­ing com­ing up and us­ing it, so it’s pretty dan­ger­ous if there are cars com­ing in the other di­rec­tion.” Ge­orge Vitelis, who was trav­el­ling to Southamp­ton, was stranded at Winch­ester ser­vice sta­tion.

He said: “I’m lucky be­cause I’m in the ser­vice sta­tion, I have use of the fa­cil­i­ties, it is lovely and warm and peo­ple are just get­ting on with things.

“There’s not a lot we can do so some guys just took out their golf clubs and are just prac­tis­ing a few strokes.

“It’s quite a strange sit­u­a­tion – there are ba­bies hav­ing their di­a­pers changed next to the M3, guys play­ing golf, peo­ple hav­ing pic­nics.”

He added: “I was head­ing down to the boat show in Southamp­ton but that prob­a­bly isn’t go­ing to hap­pen now.

“I’ll just go to­mor­row in­stead, it’s no prob­lem.

“It’s mo­ments like this that you see the best of the Bri­tish spirit.”

MIS­ERY: Huge M3 tail­back and, inset, bomb squad at scene

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