Hundreds of residents of two municipalities in Quebec's Laurentians region are awaiting further news after being ordered to leave their homes due to structural problems in a nearby dike.

Government inspectors found structural weaknesses in the Morier dike during a recent visit that could lead it to burst.

The evacuation order was issued Sunday night for about 1,000 properties near the Kiamika River in the municipalities of Chute-St-Philippe and Lac-des-Ecorces.

The inspectors suspect internal erosion to be the cause of the structural damage.

Martin Ferland, an engineer at the General Directorate of Dams of the Ministry of the Environment, says experts don't know yet when it will be safe for residents to return, noting they're still investigating and will try to give people an answer as soon as possible.

The dike on the Kiamika Reservoir was built in 1954 and has the capacity to retain 382 million cubic metres of water, the equivalent of more than 100,000 Olympic-size swimming pools.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2023.