AN investigation has been launched after a lorry driver died instantly in a crash on the M42 near Hopwood Services in the early hours of Friday.

Police do not know what caused two lorries travelling south in the left-hand lane to both career down the embankment.

The driver of the other lorry escaped with minor injuries.

Minutes later, a third lorry clipped the second's trailer, which was still projecting out onto the unlit stretch of motorway, but the driver managed to come to a controlled stop.

Bottles from one of the lorries were strewn across the motorway.

About 25 Redditch fire fighters and ambulance crews sped to the scene.

Insp Keith Hudson, of Central Motorway Police, described the crash as "very nasty".

The southbound carriageway was closed until about 8pm, 15 hours after the crash, creating road chaos throughout the region.

Witnesses can call Central Motorway Police on 0121 322 6025.