SEVEN holidaymakers - including a teenage boy - died today when the roof was ripped off their minibus in a "particularly harrowing" motorway crash.
The victims were on their way to Manchester Airport when the crash happened on the M56 just before 5.40am.
Two other passengers from the minibus - believed to be a woman and a man - were fighting for their lives and four other people travelling in three other vehicles were injured.
Greater Manchester Police said the minibus was thought to have been carrying 12 passengers and a driver. Those involved had not yet been named.
Police said it was thought the accident happened after the white Leyland Daf minibus, towing a trailer full of luggage, clipped a green Toyota Carina after overtaking it and hit the central reservation of the busy motorway in several places.
The roof of the minibus was left embedded in the safety barrier, several yards behind the spot where the minibus came to rest. Suitcases were strewn around the scene.
Ian Bailey, of the Greater Manchester Fire Service, said it was a "particularly harrowing scene".
Ambulance service spokesman Derek Cartwright described it as a scene of "utter carnage" with debris spread 150 yards up the motorway.
The westbound carriageway of the motorway was closed between junctions 2 and 4, while two lanes were open eastbound.