A DORSET surgeon says the damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in India is 'heart wrenching' –and he is now fundraising to help his fellow countrymen.

Atul Kusanale, who works as a head and neck surgeon at Dorset County Hospital (DCH) and the University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust, said due to personal and professional connections with India he has 'felt an immense urge to help'.

The country has been hit hard with its death toll more than 262,350 since the start of the pandemic - the third worst affected in the world.

Originally from Mumbai, Mr Kusanale said: "Due to personal and professional connections with India I've felt an immense urge to help."

In a bid to help, the surgeon is now raising £50,000 to buy breathing equipment to be delivered to the worst hit rural areas around the city of Mumbai.

"As I couldn't go there personally I have organised a dedicated team of volunteers who will deliver the equipment without charge," he said.

"This will assure that the material will get to the rural part of India, where coronavirus has hit hard and many patients are dying - the scenes from there are heart wrenching.

"The equipment includes oxygen concentrators.

"My own effort is not related to the UHD and DCH charity and as such should be made clear. I would urge all kind folks of Dorset to help out."

India is currently on the 'red list' of countries from which most travel to the UK is banned, over fears of a new Covid variant.

Since March 2020, the country has recorded 24,046,809 confirmed cases of Covid-19.

Mr Kusanale said: "Those living in smaller towns and villages, which accounts for nearly 60 per cent of India's population, are the silent victims.

"Travel to towns with medical facilities is not only difficult, but expensive.

"Using the existing medical set-up in smaller rural centres I'd like to provide medical help and facilities.

"This will relieve the burden on the healthcare system in cities and prevent the movement of people thereby preventing the spread."

If you would like to donate, visit: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/projectbreathe?utm_term=a5qqyDKnN