UPDATE AT 4.45pm:A woman has died after her car collided with a coach on the A19 near Seaham this morning (23 January). An air ambulance crew responded to the incident and performed open heart surgery on the roadside.

She was then airlifted to the James Cook hospital in County Durham but could not be saved. She has not yet been identified.

The A19 has now reopened but the slip roads between A19 and A1018, where the accident took place, remain closed.

ORIGINAL REPORT:An air ambulance rushed to the scene of a traffic collision between a car and a coach on the A19 in Durham earlier today (23 January). A woman underwent open chest surgery at the scene of the accident near Seaham - she has since been flown to hospital where her situation is critical.

The vehicles collided just after 11am near the A1018 slip road on the A19 northbound. Three fire engines also attended the scene and confirmed that an adult had to be cut from their car before medics could operate. The woman, reported to be in her 40s, was taken to James Cook hospital with "life threatening injuries".

A spokeswoman for the Great North Air Ambulance told the Sunderland Echo: "We were called at 11.05am and treated a woman in her 40s who was suffering from life threatening injuries. A doctor-led team carried out open chest surgery at the scene and the woman was taken by road to hospital where she is in a critical condition."

A spokeswoman from Durham Police said: "We were called at 11.04am to the scene of a crash between a coach and car on the northbound side of the A19 near to the turn off for the A1018. Officers remain on scene and we have closed the section of the A19 while the air ambulance attempts to land."