Chinese building codes were inadequate in the face of the Sichuan earthquake and must be updated, a group of seismic experts has warned.

A report from the Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation Team (EEFIT), which visited the area in July, identifies a “predominant” structural problem not accounted for in the code.

“Soft storey failure”, where one storey of a building collapses and the rest stays intact, is caused by the inadequate design of masonry infill and cladding. In the Chinese earthquake, it was found in structures built to the most recent regulations, throwing doubt on their effectiveness.

In one housing scheme, the Yazhouyan development in Dujiangyan, 70% of buildings were found to be damaged, even though the oldest dated from 2006.