Two people have been killed in a motorway pile-up involving a horse box from the famous trainer Brian Meehan's stables. A man has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving following the crash on the M11 near Harlow, Essex Police said.
The trailer carrying five horses from the respected stables collided with three cars and a lorry shortly after 2.15pm in a smash that left the northbound carriageway closed between junctions seven and eight.
Essex Fire and Rescue said it had to free three people trapped in cars and eight horses were released from the horse box. The five horses from the Meehan's stable have been rushed to the Newmarket Equine Centre where they are being assessed by vets for injuries, according to a statement on Meehan's website.
It is not yet clear if they were hurt in the crash or if any of the animals will need to be put down, but the trainer's three intended runners at Newmarket on Thursday evening were withdrawn. An Essex Police spokesman said: "Two people in a car have died and the driver and passenger in another car have been taken to hospital in Cambridgeshire.
"A woman has serious internal injuries and was flown by air ambulance and a man was taken by ambulance with a head injury." He added: "The carriageway is completely blocked and is impassable. The road will remain closed throughout the afternoon and into the evening.
"Motorists are advised to avoid the area and find alternate routes."
A statement posted on Meehan's website read: "There were two other horses accompanying our three runners to Newmarket. One was the coloured pony we use to lead some horses down to the start, the other was a horse on his way home. Details are still unclear, but they were all taken to the Equine Centre for assessment by the vets, and we do not know the extent of any injuries at the moment. It is obviously very upsetting for everyone concerned, but they could not be in a better place to receive the care they need."
The crash occurred on the northbound carriageway between the junctions for Stansted Airport and Harlow. The Highways Agency said the southbound carriageway of the M11 was open but the northbound lanes remained closed. A spokesman said: "The motorway will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so but the closure is expected to last for several hours, through the evening rush hour and into this evening.
"Current delays are at least 30 minutes. Drivers, and in particular those wishing to travel to Stansted Airport, are advised to plan their journeys and allow extra time to travel."