A man has died following a horrific 12 car pile up in Limerick last night.
It is understood the incident occurred during a freak hail storm in the area.
The man, aged in his 50s, suffered catastrophic head injuries and died after his car left the road between Birdhill and Castletroy shortly before 8pm and struck a fence.
A number of people suffered injuries in the mid-evening pile-up but none are believed to be seriously hurt, said a source.
A multi-agency response was immediately launched by emergency services. At least six fire tenders were dispatched from Limerick city and Newport, Nenagh, in Co Tipperary.
Six ambulances from the region were also sent to the scene.
Firefighters attached to Limerick City and County Fire Service, who had been attending a minor collision in Newport, were swiftly on the scene of the "massive pile up", said sources.
Gardai closed the southbound traffic lane between Junction 27 Birdhill and Junction 28 Castletroy.
A garda forensic collision investigator was sent to the scene to conduct a detailed examination. His findings will be revealed in due course.
It is understood the cars skidded off the road as a heavy sleet shower struck the area.
"There was a massive snowball storm and a heavy shower of sleet around the time of the fatal crash," said a local man.
"There were at around 12 cars involved," a source said. "The dead man's car went off the road and crashed through a fence.
"His vehicle ended up on waste ground in a ravine just off the motorway."
Gardai at Henry Street Station, Limerick, are investigating.