THE M6 is closed in both directions following a crash between a lorry and a horsebox.

The closure is in place between junctions 18 and 19.

Winsford Guardian:

Drivers were stuck on the M6 for up to five hours. Traffic pictured here near Middlewich Road shows the tailback from Sandbach. This ice cream van provided families with much needed refreshments. Picture: Richard Courts

There are currently delays of 25 minutes and four miles of congestion southbound.

The collision happened at 10.45am.

Winsford Guardian:

This picture of the M6 closed was taken from Lower Peover bridge Picture:Aisling McDonagh

Firefighters and a rope rescue unit are at the scene.

No injuries have been reported.

Winsford Guardian:

Drivers got out of their cars as they patiently waited for three hours whilst emergency services freed the trapped horse Picture: Richard Courts

A horse is trapped within the horsebox and a vet is in attendance to sedate the horse so it can be freed from the vehicle.

Winsford Guardian:

The M6 is closed in both directions following the crash Picture: Aisling McDonagh

Drivers are asked to remain in their vehicles and to expect delays on the approach to the incident and allow extra time for their journeys.

Knutsford is reported to be gridlocked and there is heavy traffic in the Holmes Chapel area.

Cheshire firefighters managed to free the trapped horse from the horse box shortly before 2pm.

A spokesman for Highways England said: "The animal is now being transferred into another vehicle before it is taken away from scene."

A spokesman for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “Firefighters cut through side of the horse box and managed to rescue the horse.

“The horse was placed into another horse box and will be transferred to an equine hospital for precautionary checks.”

The incident has now been cleared and all carriageways have fully reopened.

Drivers have been thanked for their patience.

Winsford Guardian:

Firefighters worked tirelessly to rescue the trapped horse Picture: Cheshire Fire and Rescue 

A spokesman for Middlewich Fire Station  said: “A challenging extrication  and horse successfully rescued from horse box by crews from Middlewich, Lymm, Winsford, Bollington fire stations and Cheshire Police.

“We thank motorists for their patience while the rescue took place.”

Winsford Guardian:

Firefighters thanked motorists for their patience. Many drivers and their families were stuck on  the motorway for up to five hours