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UK snow: M62 drivers stranded 'indefinitely'

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Media captionThe motorway is shut in both directions between junctions 20 and 24

The M62 motorway, where hundreds of snowbound drivers had to spend the night in their vehicles, will remain closed indefinitely, police say.

The army was deployed to help rescue motorists, some stuck for more than 12 hours, as winds speeds reached 90mph on the Rakewood Viaduct near Rochdale.

Snow, ice and high winds have left the motorway shut in both directions between junctions 20 and 24.

Volunteers have been taking supplies to those trapped, including a new baby.

Greater Manchester Police confirmed 3,500 vehicles were stuck on the motorway on Thursday evening.

Many were brought off the road, but around 200 vehicles were stuck there overnight.

Police warned people not to travel unless journeys are essential, as the motorway "remains closed indefinitely".

A spokesman said: "We strongly urge motorists to adhere to all road closure signs as ignoring them could lead to further vehicles becoming stranded.

"This in turn could result in emergency services being diverted away from people who genuinely need their help."

Power has been restored to around 12,000 homes in Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and the Peak District.

But Electricity North West said there are still 3,000 properties currently without power - mainly in Cumbria and the Peak District - with around 100 separate faults on the network, each requiring teams to attend site to make repairs.

Incident manager Chris Fox said the high winds across have caused damage to the overhead line network and snow and ice have added weight to power lines, causing them to come down and poles to break.

Rescuers have made lasagne for up to 1,000 drivers stuck for nearly 18 hours in the snowbound M62 near Milnrow.

The lasagne was made by locals while supermarkets provided the sausage rolls.

Resident Gary Foster, 49, told the BBC a 15-year old boy "walked up to two miles to bring blankets and hot food and water. He was amazing and has come again to help".

Image copyright Eleanor Kelly/PA
Image caption Butterworth Hall in Milnrow opened its doors to those needing shelter from the snow

Rochdale councillor Irene Davidson organised help at a community centre in Milnrow.

She said volunteers "trundled up towards the motorway and climbed up the embankment... to feed as many people and give as many people drinks until it turned really nasty".

She added: "Then we had to come back in to Butterworth Hall where we got police to bring people down and diverted them down to us.

"I'd say we've fed well over 250 people now and we've got more coming in.

"[The people we helped] were very pleased to see us and so grateful. It's been absolutely wonderful. And it's actually good news for Rochdale."

Image copyright Greg Walker
Image caption One motorist spotted gritters stuck in a traffic jam on the M62

Eleanor Kelly, 19, said about 30 people from Milnrow trekked through the snow to take supplies to the trapped motorists, including to a father with a baby and toddler in the car.

She said: "It's been a bit mad. We even had to warm up some hot milk for a guy stuck at the junction with two children.

"We knocked on his car and he had a five-week-old baby and what must have been a one or two-year-old girl in the car with him."

Newhey Community Primary School in Rochdale has taken in 40 people since 05:00 GMT.

The school, which is just off Junction 21, has offered tea, toast and a toilet stop for stranded drivers.

Headteacher Clair Gooding said: "We've had people who've basically been in the car all night, people coming as far as York and Doncaster.

"We're still able to take a lot more. I know people are concerned about leaving their vehicles, so we're actually taking flasks of tea and coffee up to them as well.

"But if they want some food and need the toilet, do feel free to come down because I don't think the traffic is moving any time soon."

The motorway was shut on Thursday after significant snowfall and strong winds in the area, Highways England said.

It tweeted that staff were still working to clear snow and deal with the many stranded vehicles.

Surrounding roads such as the A672, A640 and A58 are also shut, though the A62 through Oldham has re-opened.

It took Sahrah Khan 19 hours to get home from Manchester to Leeds, including 10 hours stranded on the M62.

Ms Khan told the BBC that she left work at 14:00 in a positive mood, boosted by the fact her in-car sat-nav suggested her journey would be shorter than usual.

"Next thing I know it's got dark and colder and I'm stranded in the worst traffic jam of my entire life," she said.

She passed the time by posting video updates of her "horror journey" on social media and said one of the night's highlights came when she found a pack of chocolate biscuits in her car.

Police eventually came to the rescue in the early hours of the morning, helping stranded drivers turn around and reach a nearby service station, where sleeping mats, food and drink were provided.

As soon as it started to get light, Ms Khan drove to Rochdale train station, left her car, and caught the train back to Pudsey in Leeds.

'Worried by moors'

Kate, from Leeds, has been travelling with her husband and two children since 11:00 GMT on Thursday.

"It has been horrendous we've been stuck there for eight hours. I was a bit worried when we were stuck on the moors," she told the BBC.

"It's been the snowdrifts, the road disappears and then before you know it you can be waist deep."

The family bought food and blankets from a Tesco supermarket in Rochdale after being diverted off the M62.

Image copyright Jordan Schofield
Image caption A Highways England car caught fire on the hard shoulder of the M62

Two coaches of students from Leeds College of Art have been left stuck in Littleborough.

Richard Sears, whose daughter Abby Louise is part of the group, said: "They have had a four-day trip to Berlin and arrived back at Liverpool about teatime last night.

"She spent the night sleeping on the floor of the disabled toilet to keep warm along with her friends, it's every parent's worst nightmare really."

The M66 was also closed for several hours on Thursday after a crash involving 16 vehicles, and a Highways England car caught fire while helping stranded vehicles on the M62.

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