Two killed in M26 five-vehicle crash in Kent
Two people have died in a five-vehicle crash that closed the M26 in both directions.
The crash, involving two cars, two lorries and a van, happened just before 09:40 BST on the westbound carriageway in Kent, the Highways Agency said.
Seven other people have been taken to hospital - with the six most seriously injured taken to hospitals in London.
The entire motorway was shut between the M20 and the M25 but at 16:00 one coastbound lane was reopened.
Kent Fire and Rescue Service said its crews had freed a man, woman and two children from one car and released a man and woman from a second car.
London Air Ambulance tweeted that it had been sent to help with multiple casualties.
Six of those were taken to the Royal London, St George's and King's College hospitals in London.
The seventh, who had less serious injuries, was taken to East Surrey Hospital.
Kent Police said the London-bound carriageway was expected to remain closed until about 22:00.
Traffic heading towards the capital was being turned round and directed back to join the M20 at Wrotham Heath.
Vehicles were also being diverted via the M25 and road users were advised to plan alternative routes.
The short M26 motorway links the M25 with the M20, joining the west of England by road with the Channel Tunnel at Folkestone and the Port of Dover.
People reacted to the crash on Twitter. One user, called Nevrandil, tweeted: "When you can leave your car and stand around in the middle of the road you know the #trafficjam is serious."
Trevor Harlock added: "Haven't been stuck in anything quite like this before."
Alexandra Campbell, who was also caught up in the aftermath of the crash said she used Twitter to find out what was going on.
"At 10am we found out we were going to be there until four in the afternoon. That was pretty scary as none of us had any water," she said.
Someone in the next car offered her some Easter eggs they were carrying in their car, she added.
"After about two-and-a-half hours the police started to turn us round and along what is an entrance slip road."
Terry Squires was heading to Gatwick Airport, from where he was due to depart for an Easter break.
"We only got a mile up there and came to a dead standstill," he said.
"I've been here for three hours. It's not the police's fault, it's a major accident."