TRIBUTES have been paid after a 13-year-old schoolgirl from Blackburn died in a horror smash on the M61.

Sana Patel, a pupil at Tauheedul Islam Girls’ High School, was with her family travelling from Bolton to Blackburn, when their Nissan Qashqai was hit by a Vauxhall Corsa.

Sana's mother and father, her two brothers, and her grandmother, suffered minor injuries in the crash.

Emergency services rushed to the scene of the incident at 10.20pm on Saturday.

The road remained closed in both directions until around 5am on Sunday morning.

The crash happened between junction six at Horwich and eight at Chorley.

Police were investigating at the scene throughout the night.

Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen:

A family spokesman said: "I would like to share very sad news.

"My mum sister, brother-in-law, niece and two nephews were involved in a car accident on Saturday evening coming from Bolton.

"Sadly my niece passed away at the age of 13.

"The rest have sustained minor injuries and duas (prayers) are needed at this tough time."

Those believed to have been travelling in the Corsa fled the scene.

Supt Andy Cribbin, of Lancashire Police, said: “First and foremost our thoughts are with the family and friends of the girl Sana. There are no words to describe what they will be going through and we send them our deepest condolences at this incredibly difficult time.

“Our investigation is in the early stages and we are working hard to establish exactly what occurred, and to locate the people who were in the Corsa.

“We are now appealing directly to them. We know the car is registered to an address in West Yorkshire and we are appealing for the driver and any passenger at the time of the collision to make contact with us as soon as possible.  A 12-year-old girl has tragically lost her life, so we would urge them to search their conscience and do the right thing by contacting us.

“We are also asking anybody who saw the collision, or saw either vehicle in the moments before it happened, to get in touch with us as soon as possible.”

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Anybody with information is asked to get in touch on 101, quoting log 1817 of July 6th.

The M61 was closed in both directions between junctions six and eight while collision investigators attended the scene and reopened at around 9am this morning.