THE M66 was shut after two cars separate crashes this morning.

Police attended the incidents, which happened on either side of the road, close to junction 3 of the motorway, at about 5.40am this morning.

A crew from Bury Fire Station also attended the scene.

Two vehicles were involved in a collision on the motorway's southbound carriageway shortly before a similar incident, also involving two vehicles, occurred on the opposite side.

It is thought that extreme snow and hail were responsible for the crashes, which left one vehicle hanging over the central reservation.

Three other cars were also caught up in the incident and had to pull over.

All drivers and passengers declined hospital treatment but were assessed by paramedics at the scene.

Following the incident, police closed both carriageways while the vehicles were recovered.

The northbound carriageway reopened at about 6.20am and the southbound was then opened an hour later.

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said: "At approximately 5.40am, a collision occurred on the southbound carriageway. Simultaneously, there was another collision northbound due to extreme snow and hail.

"In both instances, no occupants were injured.

"In order to safeguard other users, the road was closed and has since been reopened.

"Other cars were involved and had to pull over as well."

Steve Urmston watch manager at Bury Fire Station: “At 5.38am, we turned out to junction 3 of the M66 southbound.

“Seven cars were involved but no persons were trapped. They all declined hospital treatment but were assessed at the scene by ambulance staff.

“Three vehicles were made safe due to damage sustained. One was hanging over the central reservation.

“There was quite a bit of sleet on the road at the time.”