LONDON: Two people are thought to be fighting for their lives and several others have been injured after a three-car collision on the M1 in the early hours of Saturday that threatened to create long delays for Christmas travellers. The northbound and southbound carriageways were closed between junctions 13 (Bedford) and 12 (Flitwick) after the accident, which took place just after 2.30am. A spokeswoman for Bedfordshire police said: “Several people were injured and have been taken to hospital for treatment. Two people are thought to have suffered life-threatening injuries while a number of others are being treated for less serious injuries.” Highways England said the closure was affecting traffic heading to Luton airport and London. The northbound carriageway reopened at around 8.20am on Christmas Eve, and authorities are in the process of reopening one lane on the southbound carriageway, as the vehicles were removed from the scene. The accident comes on the second day of expected disruption to travel and power supplies as severe weather warnings remain in place for Christmas Eve.
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) said that as of 9am on Saturday morning, engineers had restored power to more than 21,000 homes in the north of Scotland after the country was battered by Storm Barbara, which at its height brought wind speeds of more than 80mph and lightning strikes across the north-west of Scotland and the Western Isles. High winds, snow and ice are forecast for northern parts of the country, with the potential for gusts of 70mph on exposed parts of the Scottish mainland and 80mph across Shetland. Further weather warnings are in place for Christmas Day and Boxing Day with a second storm, Storm Conor, expected to bring more high winds and a risk of lightning to the Western Isles, north-west Highlands, Orkney and Shetland. A lightning strike affected around 13,000 customers in Lewis and Harris, though all homes were reconnected within two hours. A total of 762 customers remain without power as a result of localised faults on the islands of Lewis, Jura and Shetland. Dale Cargill, SSEN director of customer operations, said the network was prepared to respond quickly to disruption to supplies, where it was safe to do so. “We are acutely aware of the time of year and the increasing concern this brings and would like to reassure our customers we will be doing all we can to keep disruption to a minimum,” he said. Ferry services remain subject to cancellations and revised schedules and many bridges are subject to high wind warnings but ScotRail said it planned to run services as scheduled on Christmas Eve with the possibility of some minor alterations.