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 The Forth Road Bridge is to be closed until the new year because of structural faults, transport minister Derek Mackay has said.

The bridge has been closed since midnight with initial guidance saying it would be shut for at least 24 hours.

The minister has now said it would need at least three weeks to repair the bridge and safety was "paramount".

He said a full travel plan was being prepared, including extra trains and buses and possibly a ferry.

Early on Friday morning, 11-mile tailbacks were reported approaching the Kincardine Bridge, the alternative route across the Forth from Fife to Edinburgh.

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Mr Mackay said the bridge, which is due to be replaced by a new crossing in about a year, had been closed to allow repairs which if not tackled quickly risked further damage to the 51-year-old structure.

The minister said there would be about a week of further inspections and two weeks to carry out the repairs.

He said the work was weather-dependent but took the view that the bridge would be reopened to traffic for the return to work in January.

Mr Mackay said "We are aware of the potential economic impact, for strategic traffic in the east of Scotland and on people living in local communities.

"This is an unprecedented challenge in the maintenance of the Forth Road Bridge. On balance following advice from engineers and independent experts, the full closure is essential for the safety of the travelling public and to prevent further damage to the structure of the bridge."

Maintenance firm Amey, which is carrying out the repair said further damage to the bridge would require a closure for a much longer period.