Drivers are warned the A35 Puddletown Bypass will remain closed westbound today after a major sink hole appeared.

The Echo first reported a hole was discovered in a section of the carriageway last week.

A pothole first opened up in a section of the carriageway last Monday which Highways England attempted to fix, then the following day a sink hole opened up.

This prompted the closure of the westbound carriageway between Bere Regis and Dorchester with a 17-mile diversion in place.

Highways England has now said the closure, and subsequent diversion route will remain in force for now while repairs are carried out.

A spokesman said: "Highways England is advising drivers that the A35 westbound (towards Dorchester) between the A31 at Bere Regis and the A35 at Stinsford roundabout, will remain closed on Monday due a large surface defect.

"Drivers heading westbound on the A35 are being diverted via Bere Regis roundabout at the A31, south to Wool, before taking the A352 back to the A35, following the solid triangle diversion."

The agency said geotechnical survey work to assess the size and extent of the damage has been taking place since Wednesday, with design work being carried out at the weekend ahead of repair work set to start on Monday.

The spokesman added: "Highways England continues to work closely with Dorset Council to resolve this issue as soon as possible, including assessing the diversion route with the potential of installing a contraflow on the eastbound carriageway, allowing traffic to travel in both directions and the diversion to be removed.

"Drivers are reminded to allow extra time for their journeys."