THREE people were left with serious injuries following a crash involving a minibus on a Hampshire motorway.

The M3 was closed in both directions between junctions five and six, following the incident at 9.48am this morning.

The crash happened on the southbound route and there were delays of up to two-and-a-half hours.

The three people, who were part of a group of nine Romanian nationals on holiday, were injured when the driver of the minibus lost control following a suspected blown tyre.

They were travelling from London to Bournemouth as part of their trip.

The minibus, which had been travelling in lane three, crossed the carriageway and left the road where it overturned, throwing at least two passengers from the vehicle in the process.

No other vehicle was involved in the crash, according to Hampshire police.

Six other people – including two children – were walking wounded. They were taken to Southampton General Hospital to be examined before being released.

Drivers are being warned to expect delays on the A287 and A30, which have been designated as an alternative route for drivers trying to avoid the closure.

The Hampshire Air Ambulance landed on the northbound carriageway, which was swiftly reopened after it departed.

However the southbound carriageway at junction 5 to 6 remained until much later.

Sgt Barry Long from Whitchurch Roads Policing Unit said: “We’re seeing significant congestion around the scene and would ask that people avoid this area.

“It’s a very hot day to be stuck in a car for long periods of time so we’d advise drivers to select an alternative route. If you cannot avoid the area, make sure you set out with water in your vehicle so you can stay hydrated during the wait.”

A Southampton motorist, who was caught up in the traffic, said: "It is a major incident. There are four five ambulances, two helicopters, six police cars and two fire engines.

"I can see a mini bus and about five or six cars parked up but can't see any casualties. There is a queue stretching for about five miles between Basingstoke and Fleet."

All lanes were fully reopened by 2pm.

Later in the afternoon, police revealed that two of the three most gravely injured passengers, a 22-year-old man and a 66-year-old man, were no longer in a serious condition.

The other passenger, a 63-year-old woman, is in intensive care in a critical condition at Southampton General Hospital.

Police are appealing for anyone who saw the collision to contact Whitchurch Roads policing Unit on 101, quoting Operation Woodruff.