Drivers endured massive tailbacks and delays after the bomb disposal squad was called to investigate a package near Milton Keyes. The motorway was still closed at 4pm, eight hours after the incident.
Thames Valley police have since confirmed that the object was not explosive:
“Investigation by the EOD [explosive ordnance disposal] can confirm that there is no explosive element to the object found,” it said in a statement.
The road is still closed both ways between junctions 14 and 15 in Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, with traffic completely trapped on the southbound.
Thames Valley Police is advising motorists to stay away, and the AA is telling motorists to use the M40 from M25 for the Midlands and North.
— Richard Lewis (@rlewi87) September 19, 2017
On Twitter, one user initially said the lockdown was caused by a “smoking package containing yellow bubbling liquid”.
There are reports of a controlled explosion but this has not been confirmed by police. A spokesperson for Thames Valley Police confirmed that the package is still being examined.
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Motorists on Twitter said they had been sitting in queues for five hours — with some finding inventive ways to pass the time.
Images of drivers playing football and frisbee in the empty southbound lane were posted on Twitter, with others simply wandering about.
— Cheryl Thomas (@cherylthomasRM) September 19, 2017
— Stuart Paterson (@Gordonsalive200) September 19, 2017
In a statement, Thames Valley Police said: “We are urging the public to avoid the M1 as we are currently dealing with a report of a suspicious object.
“It was found underneath one of the motorway bridges between junctions 15 and 14 at around 7.30am this morning.”
— Liz Searle (@LizSearle1) September 19, 2017
M1 currently closed in both directions between junction 15 and 14. Motorists urged to avoid the area at this time. More to follow.
— Thames Valley Police (@ThamesVP) September 19, 2017