A MAN died and seven people were injured today in a horrific series of accidents on the M8.

The crashes, involving eight vehicles, closed the road between Edinburgh and Glasgow in both directions during rush-hour, causing chaos after massive tailbacks quickly built up.

Hundreds of drivers were stranded as the road was shut for more than seven hours.

Police warned people wandering about the carriageway to stay in their vehicles. The accident happened on the westbound carriageway between junctions 3 and 3A, at Livingston, West Lothian.

It was reported at 6.12am, when a van was spotted on the hard shoulder with smoke coming out of it.

It is thought there were several minor accidents starting with reports a vehicle was on fire near Junction 3.

Another car is thought to have slowed down, and was hit from behind. This was followed by a series of minor shunts.

The driver who died was standing on the roadway exchanging details with another motorist when he was hit by a car.

Casualties were taken to St John's Hospital, Livingston, and the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh.

A spokesman for the Ambulance Service said one person had died and two others had serious or traumatic injuries.

They described four other people as walking wounded and one was "in shock".

At the scene, a badly damaged Vauxhall was blocking the westbound carriageway, while a Ford Fiesta van could be seen on the opposite side of the road.

Several other cars were scattered on the carriageway as police accident investigators carried out their work.

Drivers were still stuck in the gridlock at 10am - almost four hours after the crash happened.

One driver, who had not moved an inch for around three hours, said: "It has been a nightmare. I have not even had my engine switched on since about 7am."

At one stage this morning, police spoke to drivers and told them there were plans to start clearing the jam from the back. However, by 10am there was still no movement.

But around 10.30am police started to escort vehicles out of the westbound queue. Cars were allowed to turn around and drive the wrong way down the carriageway to get clear of the scene.

Crash investigators were at the scene all morning and the M8 was reopened in both directions by 1.30pm.