Motorists on M3 stuck for hours as bomb squad investigate hazard alert

23 September 2017, 16:35

Thousands of motorists and passengers were stranded for up to 12 hours on a motorway as bomb disposal experts dealt with a mystery hazard on the carriageway.

The M3, which is the main route between London and Southampton, was closed between junctions 9 and 11 after the emergency services were called to the scene shortly before 4am on Saturday, after reports of a "potentially hazardous material in the road".

The busy route has now fully reopened, police said.

Many motorists said they had been stuck for hours following the "chaos", while others risked injury by driving the wrong way down the hard shoulder.

Hampshire Police said they were unable to confirm the nature of the substance and whether it was placed deliberately on the carriageway or whether it was an accident.

However, it comes just days after thousands were caught up in gridlock on the M1, after the three-lane motorway was closed between junctions 14 and 15 because of a "suspicious object".

The police later said could have been highly corrosive hydrochloric acid, possibly placed deliberately.

The M3 was extra busy on Saturday as Manchester United fans made their way to their game against Southampton.

Fan Paul Hibbert was travelling with his friends to see the game but decided to leave the coach and make the one-and-a-half-mile journey to Winchester station by foot, walking along the hard shoulder to junction 9.

The 53-year-old, from Manchester, 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.

"We got the National Express at quarter past midnight to London and got the 8am bus to Southampton - it's 1pm now."

Pictures posted on social media showed a man walking his dog on the hard shoulder, others playing golf, and another doing a handstand on the carriageway.

Hampshire Police said in a statement: "Our officers are working alongside partners from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team to establish what it is."

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