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Tailbacks as part of M25 collapses

Huge tailbacks developed on Britain's busiest motorway today after a section of road collapsed in heavy rain following overnight maintenance work.

Large potholes appeared close to junction 9 of the M25 in Surrey, with car tyres being shredded and drivers cauqht up in the hold-ups missing flights at nearby Gatwick airport.

Three of the four lanes between junction 9 at Leatherhead and junction 10 south west of Cobham remained closed while repairs to the damaged surface were carried out.

A Highways Agency spokesman said: "Concrete repairs being carried out overnight failed to set. Maintenance crews had been working overnight to replace three sections of concrete road surface between junctions 9 and 10.

"One of these concrete sections disintegrated and another section was showing signs of distress. We have people on the site repairing these sections and we will reopen the closed lanes as soon as it is safe to do so."

Surrey Police posted pictures of potholes on the junction 9 sliproad which was also shut for a time before reopening later in the morning.

"Safety is our top priority and we are doing all we can to reopen the lanes as quickly as possible. In the meantime, we advise drivers to avoid this section of the anti-clockwise M25 and seek alternative routes."

AA president Edmund King said: "The M25 really is the 'road to Hell' today. The M25 is critical to the nation and today's incident highlights just how dependant we are on it to function 24/7.

"There must be a thorough investigation into this incident. It is disappointing that not only did the road fail but it placed many drivers in danger and also reportedly damaged a number of vehicles. If this happened on the railways, passengers could claim compensation. As it has happened on the roads, drivers just have to put up with it."

Gatwick warned passengers of the long delays for those driving to the airport. A spokesman said: "We advise you to allow extra time for your journey or consider alternative options on public transport."

Heavy rain made driving conditions hazardous today. There were tailbacks on the M3 in Hampshire, while accidents caused hold-ups on the M6 just north of Birmingham and on the M50 between Tewkesbury and Ross-on-Wye.

Meanwhile, the Environment Agency and AA have urged drivers to be "flood-aware" as a survey showed that, despite the wettest winter on record, more than two-thirds of men and half of women would still risk driving through flood water.

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