Hundreds of motorists in the US were stranded all night in snow and freezing temperatures along a 50-mile stretch of road after multiple trucks crashed during a major snowstorm.
Drivers were left stuck in their vehicles on the Interstate 95 in Northern Virginia on Monday night as authorities battled to open the icy road.
I-95 was shut down in both directions near Fredricksburg, about 55 miles (89 km) south of Washington, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDT) said.
The standstill came after more than a foot (30cm) of snow fell in southeast and mid-Atlantic regions of the US, causing multiple car crashes.
Emergency services worked through the night to clear downed trees, assist disabled vehicles and reroute drivers, state Governor Ralph Northam said on Tuesday. Motorists have been urged to stay away from the area.
Virginia State Police said the traffic pile-up had been caused by a series of large crashes – with one involving six tractor-trailers. State police responded to and cleared 653 crashes through the night, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The tractor-trailer collision on Monday afternoon caused no injuries, but brought traffic to a standstill, and it became impossible to move as the snow accumulated.
Meanwhile, social media was flooded with posts from desperate drivers trapped in their vehicles overnight as temperatures dropped below freezing.
"We have been stuck here for 10+ hours we have dogs and have to go to the bathroom plus we need gas. No hotels around are open," one driver tweeted.
I started my normal 2 hour drive to DC at 1pm yesterday. 19 hours later, I’m still not near the Capitol. My office is in touch with @VaDOT to see how we can help other Virginians in this situation. Please stay safe everyone. pic.twitter.com/Sz1b1hZJZ5
— Tim Kaine (@timkaine) January 4, 2022
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Emily Clementson, a truck driver, told NBC Washington. She urged stuck motorists to ask truck drivers if they have food or water to share, since many carry extra supplies in case they get stranded.
US Senator Tim Kaine tweeted on Tuesday morning that he was among those stranded.
“I started my normal 2 hour drive to DC at 1pm yesterday. 19 hours later, I’m still not near the Capitol,” he tweeted, along with a photo showing how his car has been boxed in between three tractor-trailers.
The fast-moving storm forced the closure of federal offices and schools, grounded airplanes and saw thousands of residents lose power.