Two young brothers died and their mother suffered injuries after their car crashed on a busy motorway.
The boys - aged four and 10 - were killed after the car they were travelling in along the M6 motorway crashed and overturned, West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) said.
Their mother was believed to have been driving the car. She remains in a stable condition in hospital, Staffordshire Police said.
A 32-year-old woman who was also in the vehicle at the time of the accident, which is believed to have been travelling from the Thames Valley area, was also killed.
Another female passenger was injured and taken to hospital for treatment, where she was in a stable condition, a force spokeswoman said.
Police said the crash happened on the northbound carriageway of the M6 near junction 15 at around 11.25am yesterday.
Chief Superintendent Martin Evans said: ''Colleagues from the emergency services have worked seamlessly throughout the day in these very sad and exceptionally difficult circumstances.
''Unfortunately the outcome is extremely tragic and our thoughts are with the family of those who have died.''
The motorway was closed in both directions following the accident, but has now reopened.
Police, fire and ambulance service, including two Midlands air ambulances, attended the scene of the incident, which police said included a red Ford Focus.
A WMAS spokesman said: ''Crews arrived to find a single vehicle that had crashed and overturned.
''Two children and an adult that were travelling in the vehicle suffered serious injuries.
''Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of ambulance crews, nothing could be done to save the two boys and one woman, and they were confirmed dead at the scene.
''Two other adult women travelling in the car, both received emergency treatment at the scene for their injuries and were transferred by land ambulances to University Hospital North Staffordshire on blue lights for further treatment.
''All emergency services personnel worked seamlessly together at the scene in exceptionally difficult circumstances. Unfortunately, the outcome was not the one everyone would have hoped for.''
Police have appealed for anyone who witnessed the crash to contact them by calling 01785234094 and asking for the collision investigation unit within the Central Motorway Policing Group.