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Police search lorries as M6 shuts between J15 and J16 due to ‘ongoing incident’

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Police have shut both carriageways of the M6 between junctions 15 and 16 due to an “ongoing incident”, with officers seen searching lorries along the route.

Staffordshire Police has said it was called to reports about “concern for people travelling on the motorway” near Keele, but has not confirmed the exact nature of the incident.

One witness, Gareth Condliffe, told Sky News that officers were searching lorries.

Police have been seen searching lorries as traffic builds on the M6. Pic: Gareth Condliffe
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Police have been seen searching lorries as traffic builds on the M6. Pic: Gareth Condliffe

He said: “I was on my way home when suddenly the route on my satnav went red and everything stopped.

“I must have been stuck for about an hour and by the time I got to the front I could see the police were pulling in all the lorries and checking in the back of them.

“They were taking them in to the inside lane and trying to direct the traffic around them, but it was causing huge tailbacks. There was a police helicopter flying overhead as well, going over all the traffic.”

Motorists reported seeing men being unloaded from the backs of lorries. Pic: Martin Kavanagh
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The lorries searched are on the northbound carriageway. Pic: Martin Kavanagh

Another motorist, Martin Kavanagh, saw a number of suspected migrants being unloaded from the back of a lorry on the northbound carriageway.

He told Sky News at 7pm he had been stationary for about an hour-and-a-half, having left his office in Coventry at around 3pm to get back home to Bolton.

“It looks to me like east African refugees, one lying on the hard shoulder, several have been taken into ambulances, there was one at large on the far side of the opposite southbound carriageway and police apprehended that individual and brought him back over,” he said.

“There are multiple lorries involved. There are lots of police and paramedics here and they’ve done a super job, but we have not been given any communication from the police.

“One or two people have gone up to the police, but they have kept them at a sensible distance and sent them back to their vehicles.

“I’m now four hours into my journey with no sign of the motorway being cleared.”

Motorists reported seeing men being unloaded from the backs of lorries. Pic: Martin Kavanagh
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Traffic has been held up for more than an hour and a half. Pic: Martin Kavanagh

Motorists have been urged to avoid the area, with Highways England reporting delays of 90 minutes.

Ambulance crews have joined officers on the scene and a police helicopter has also been spotted overhead.

Burton Albion fans heading north to watch their side take on Manchester City in the semi-final of the Carabao Cup are among those who have reported getting stuck in the jam.

The first-leg match gets underway at the Etihad Stadium at 7.45pm.

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