Hundreds of motorists were stranded overnight on a 50-mile (80km) stretch of Interstate 95 in Virginia as heavy snow and a crash involving six tractor-trailers blocked travel lanes, authorities said.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) confirmed both directions of I-95 remained shut down on Tuesday around the Virginia city of Fredericksburg.

The tractor-trailer collision on Monday caused no injuries but brought traffic to a standstill along the main US East Coast highway as the snow accumulated. Hours passed with hundreds of motorists posting increasingly desperate messages on social media about running out of fuel, food, and water.

Marcie Parker, a Virginia Department of Transportation engineer leading the effort to clear the interstate, said crews were trying to first clear vehicles that could move on their own.

Then they would tow disabled or abandoned ones and plow, she said, adding that the roadway was expected to be cleared for the Wednesday morning rush hour.

People could be seen walking down traffic lanes still covered with ice and snow.