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MoD flood rescue bill 'was too high'

Staff at the Ministry of Defence charged too much to rescue people stranded by floods in Mozambique this year, a committee of MPs said yesterday. The International Development Select Committee said the MoD was "quite wrong" to behave as it did.

Clare Short, the Secretary of State for International Development, rejected an initial MoD offer to send helicopters because it said the aid would cost £2.3m. Instead, Ms Short's department chartered five helicopters locally for £870,000, though it later agreed also to hire MoD helicopters after the price was cut to £1.15m.

The committee said: "The MoD is not as yet flexible, speedy and cost-effective enough to be automatically and seriously considered for deployment."

Geoff Hoon, the Secretary of State for Defence said: "Our servicemen and women were the first from outside the region to arrive and provide help ... We can all be very proud of the way the sailors, soldiers and airmen and women ... helped save the lives of so many people."