A BARNSLEY Hospital doctor who saw ‘unimaginable disaster’ in Turkey following a devastating earthquake has said he would travel again in an instant to help and praised generous residents who have already helped the cause.

Asim Salim has been a consultant at the hospital for more than a decade and in that time he has been on numerous humanitarian missions across the globe with charity Humanity First.

The majority of these have been in ‘peace time’ particularly to Africa to introduce life-saving materials such as water taps.

But he travelled to Turkey last week following an earthquake which killed more than 33,000 people though the figure could be ‘double’ that according to the UN.

Asim, 46, told the Chronicle the damage is ‘unimaginable’ and the pictures seen on TV news broadcasts don’t compare to the sheer devastation in the area.

“There are two types of missions there’s the peace time trips like Gambia where I’ve been five or six times,” he said.

“That’s where we make water pumps and offer gift of sight operations.

“These types of operations happen almost every year.

“In addition to that every few years there are big disasters which strike somewhere in the world.

“We had earthquakes in Pakistan, then tsunamis in Indonesia and an earthquake in Haiti.

“These are the major international disasters where Humanity First is heavily involved.

“The earthquake struck on Monday and I was asked on Tuesday if I was able to go we reached southern Turkey on the Wednesday.

“The earthquakes were completely devastating.

“The damage and the destruction was unbelievable. It’s on a scale that is difficult to imagine.

“You can see it on the news but if you are actually on the ground and see it with your own eyes it’s a very different experience.

“The damage, the suffering, the pain the scale of that was completely unimaginable.”

Asim was out in Turkey for around a week to help the residents through the tragedy and he said he was impressed with how resilient they were in the face of disaster.

“The people are very brave and resilient the way they are coping is really impressive,” he added.

“I have a lot of respect for them with the way they are dealing with the disaster.

“The only reason we were there is in the name of humanity.

“You land at the nearest working airport which is Adana you come out and you see absolutely nothing wrong.

Then you start driving towards the earthquake centre and very slowly things start to change.

“There are little cracks in the buildings and then they grow bigger after a few miles you see them on the floor.

“Then suddenly everything is just destroyed. The scale of destruction is way larger than anything we have seen before.

“What we can do is to do our best to help the local people in every way possible.

“Whether it is providing medical help, warm clothing or food.

“Very quickly we were able to establish local contacts and two separate medical camps.

“Work involved seeing anyone who needed medical help.

“I have been working with the charity for a long time and any time there is a disaster we try and do our level best.

“It’s very encouraging to see how many countries in the name of humanity are helping Turkey.”

Back home in Barnsley, generous residents have raised cash for those affected by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

A collection was held in the town centre by Stainborough Rotary Club on Saturday.

A total of £2,400 was raised on the day, with a further £600 added to to the total from the club’s disaster fund meaning £3,000 will be used to help those in need.

Asim said it’s those donations that keep local people going.

“All the efforts from countries are being helped by donations,” he added.

“We’ve always helped people generously and I’m sure we’re going to do that again.

“What people here can do to help is to donate to different charities the more they can raise the more the public can help.”

He returned to Barnsley Hospital to work this week but given the opportunity he wouldn’t think twice about going about returning to the country to offer his expertise.

He added: “I consider myself fortunate to be able to help local people there. If there was an opportunity I would be very keen to go back.

“My faith teaches me that helping somebody is not a choice, it is compulsory. If you are able to help someone then it is an easy decision I don’t have to plan or think about it.

“I would want to go back and help as much as I can.”

Dr Simon Enright, Barnsley Hospital’s medical director, paid tribute to Dr Salim for helping in Turkey.

He said: “Dr Salim has a long history of volunteering his skills to help in overseas crises like this.

“We are very proud to have him on our team and we thank him for all he is doing.”