Witnesses say lots of people stranded in stationary M3 traffic as Hampshire gridlock grows while bomb squad investigates

Photo put out by the Press Association witth the permission from the Twitter feed of Simon Read of a Royal Navy bomb disposal unit on the M3
Photo put out by the Press Association witth the permission from the Twitter feed of Simon Read of a Royal Navy bomb disposal unit on the M3

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Witnesses to the traffic chaos on the M3 today say ‘lots of people are stranded’ on the motorway after suspected hazardous material was discovered.

Bomb disposal units have been called out after emergency services shut a section of the M3 motorway, causing travel misery for thousands of motorists.

Photo put out by the Press Association taken with permission from the Twitter feed of Paul Hibbert of traffic at a standstill on the M3 motorway

Photo put out by the Press Association taken with permission from the Twitter feed of Paul Hibbert of traffic at a standstill on the M3 motorway

Police have just confirmed that the northbound carriageway is due to be reopened ‘soon’

Scores of vehicles are said to be caught up in the closure after Hampshire police shut the motorway between junctions 9 and 11 near Winchester in the early hours of Saturday.

The road is likely to stay closed for several more hours, and there are long queues on the M3 and the A34, while traffic service Romanse has said that Winchester city centre and all routes in ‘is pretty well gridlocked at the moment’. Police said they were called at 3.49am to reports of ‘potential hazardous material in the road’.

Passengers stuck on the motorway captured footage of some motorists driving the wrong way down the hard shoulder in order to escape - a traffic offence which routinely carries a fine.

Photo put out by the Press Association with permission from the Twitter feed of @nerryropez of stationary traffic on the M3

Photo put out by the Press Association with permission from the Twitter feed of @nerryropez of stationary traffic on the M3

Witness Jenna Keating, 31, a writer from Windsor, told the Press Association: ‘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”.

‘They also said the delay had been quite well advertised, although none of the four of us in the car saw anything until we were in it.

‘We’re one of the lucky ones, we’ve only been here for 40 minutes although we’ve basically only crawled forward into space probably left by those who are trying to turn around.

‘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.’