Agent Says Ghanaian Soccer Star Missing in Turkey After Earthquake Rescue

Kos Temenes
By Kos Temenes
February 9, 2023World News
Agent Says Ghanaian Soccer Star Missing in Turkey After Earthquake Rescue
A file image of Christian Atsu of Newcastle United arriving at the stadium prior to the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Everton FC at St. James Park in Newcastle upon Tyne, U.K. on Dec. 28, 2019. (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Ghanaian soccer star Christian Atsu, who was in Turkey during the devastating earthquake that shook the region on Monday, has reportedly been found alive, but his whereabouts are unknown, his agent has said.

Atsu, 31, was found buried under the rubble of a collapsed building in the southern Turkish province of Hatay. He had been trapped under the building since it collapsed due to the devastating tremor.

Atsu, who played in the English Premier League (EPL) and represented Ghana in the 2014 World Cup, began playing for Turkish Super Lig side Hatayspor in September.

Atsu reportedly sustained an injury to his right foot and experienced breathing difficulties. After being rescued, he was immediately transported to a hospital.

“We’ve received some positive news that Christian Atsu has been successfully rescued from the rubble of the collapsed building and is receiving treatment. Let’s continue to pray for Christian,” the Ghana Football Association posted on Twitter on Tuesday.

However, on Wednesday, his agent, Nana Sechere, said his whereabouts are unknown.

“Following yesterdays update from the club that, Christian had been pulled out alive, we are yet to confirm Christian’s whereabouts,” Sechere said via Twitter. “As you can imagine, this continues to be a devastating time for his family and we are doing everything we can to locate Christian.”

The day before the quake, Atsu played in a home game against Kasimpasa. He was brought in as a substitute player and ended up scoring the winning goal.

His teammates reported him missing shortly before his former English Premier League team posted a short message on social media:

“Praying for some positive news, @ChristianAtsu20,” Newcastle United FC wrote to Twitter.

The Ghanaian athlete first joined the Chelsea soccer club in 2016. Having helped to promote the club to the EPL, he participated in the English Premier League team for five seasons with Newcastle United and Everton (on loan from Chelsea), reported New York Post.

Atsu last played for Ghana in 2019. In the 2015 African Cup of Nations, he secured the title of best player.

Turkey earthquake 7.8
A man standing amid rubble looks at the damage following an earthquake in Hatay, Turkey, on Feb. 7, 2023. (Umit Bektas/Reuters)

Thousands of Buildings Collapsed

The death toll of the disaster is now exceeding 10,000 people in the two countries most affected, Turkey and Syria. Over 40,000 people were injured, and many tens of thousands lost their homes. Officials estimate close to a thousand buildings have collapsed following the tremors.

Officials anticipate the death toll to rise further as rescue efforts are ongoing for thousands of missing people, including many children. The World Health Organisation has warned the actual number of casualties could be up to eight times higher amid near-freezing temperatures and snowfall.

The Turkish city of Gaziantep was the first to register the quake, which measured 7.8 on the Richter scale. It was followed by an aftershock 11 minutes later, measuring 6.7, and a second powerful tremor just hours after, measuring 7.5.

Since the initial tremors, over 300 aftershocks have been recorded in the region.

According to seismologists, it is one of the largest and most devastating earthquakes in close to 100 years.

Emergency personnel and rescue workers have been dispatched to at least ten Turkish cities, which were virtually reduced to rubble, often having to use nothing but their bare hands in efforts to find survivors.

Rebel-held areas in Syria are believed to have also suffered a significant number of fatalities. The largest number of deaths occurred in northern refugee camps near the Turkish border.

Rescue workers and medical teams try to reach trapped residents in a collapsed building following an earthquake in Diyarbakir, southeastern Turkey, on Feb. 6, 2023. (Mahmut Bozarsan/AP Photo)

Rescue teams from more than two dozen countries have joined the search for survivors, including France, Netherlands, Poland, Greece, Romania, Czech Republic, Croatia, and Bulgaria. Rescue equipment from several European Union nations has been flown to Turkey to provide further assistance on the ground.

The United States, the United Kingdom, India, and Taiwan have also pledged to send medical supplies, rescue dogs, and specialist workers, as reported by Sky News Australia.

According to officials, Russia and Ukraine, which are in the midst of an ongoing conflict, have also said they were prepared to dispatch rescue workers to the area.

Turkey sits on one of the world’s major fault lines, making the country prone to frequent earthquakes.

Nearly 18,000 people died when an earthquake struck the northwestern part of the country in 1999. Sixty years prior, over 30,000 people died in a similar calamity in the country’s eastern region.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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