UK spent £3m sending three helicopters to help Nepal earthquake recovery - but none was used

Nepalese government says it rejected aircraft due to potential for further damage to buildings

Click to follow

UK taxpayers footed a £3m bill for three helicopters that David Cameron sent to help Nepal recover from the devastating earthquake that killed more than 9,000 people - but none of them were used, according to reports in the Financial Times.

The Prime Minister announced the move on Twitter in the heat of the election campaign as disaster struck Nepal, promising to do “all we can to help” victims in the region.

He said the RAF would fly three Chinook helicopters over to Nepal, but they were refused entry into the country due to fears they would cause more damage to buildings.

An official close to Britain’s aid efforts in the region told the Financial Times that Mr Cameron was foolish to announce the move on Twitter without checking whether the aircraft would be allowed into Nepal. “Of course, the Nepalese should have let the Chinooks in, but it might have been a good idea to check first,” the official said. Another official criticised the move by Mr Prime Minister, describing it as "government by tweet".

However Downing Street sources “strongly contest” the claims from the official and said the helicopters were being sent in response to a request for help from the UN and the Nepalese government.

Number 10 also pointed out that the overall amount of money contributed to the aid effort was around £32m and said it was up to the Nepalese government how the cash was spent.

A Nepalese spokesman said at the time: “We have told the British authorities that they cannot fly their Chinook helicopters here because our technical team says they are likely to damage the houses and other buildings in the Kathmandu valley.

“We are worried about broken windows and roofs being blown off by these big helicopters.”

More than a million people were left in need of food and supplies after the country's worst natural disaster in 80 years. It killed more than 9,000 people and left around 23,000 injured.