Page last updated at 12:00 GMT, Friday, 16 October 2009 13:00 UK

Cable collapse shuts M5 for hours

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Power engineers were given a police escort to the scene

More than 25 miles of the M5 near Bristol were closed for several hours after a car left the road and struck a pole carrying 11,000V electric cables.

Police closed the busy motorway early on Friday after the cables were left dangling over the carriageway but it began to reopen at about 1130 BST.

All lanes of the motorway have been reopened in both directions.

Motorists were warned of "considerable delays" in the area but diversions had helped prevent significant tailbacks.

The M5 had been shut northbound between junctions 22 and 19, and southbound between junctions 19 and 20.

Map showing motorway

It is believed the Nissan pick-up rolled several times before hitting the pole at about 0425 BST on Friday.

The driver escaped with minor injuries.

Great Western Ambulance Service said three people were in the car which hit the pole.

All three were taken to hospital but it is not believed any are seriously injured.

The Portbury Hundred near Portishead was also closed because of its proximity to the fallen power cable but has since been reopened.

Earlier on Friday one caller to the BBC described Portishead as "like a car park".

The M49 was also closed but has since reopened, but both Severn crossings remained open throughout.

A Highways Agency spokesman said the reason such a long stretch of the motorway was closed was to provide heavy goods vehicles a diversionary route to pass along.

"The fallen cable is only 4m from the motorway so we've activated a strategic diversion route," he said.

Pick-up truck which hit the pole
The pick-up truck rolled several times before hitting the pole

"Power engineers are at the scene and are working to solve the problem, but this could take some time."

Crews from Western Power Distribution were given a police escort to the site from their depot in Weston-super-Mare because of the heavy traffic.

A spokeswoman said: "The pole was snapped by the force of the impact and this left the cables dangling across the motorway.

"The repairs aren't straightforward because there is a lot of heavy equipment on top of the pole.

"Once the pole and other equipment is secured then we have to tension the cables across the motorway," she added.

An Avon and Somerset Police spokesman said: "Decisions to close the motorway are never taken lightly as police officers are aware of the impact this has on people.

"However, the power cable presents a hazard to any motorists and in the interests of public safety the decision was taken to close the road."



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