Editor’s Note: On February 18, Christian Atsu’s agent and Turkish club confirmed that the 31-year-old footballer had been found dead under the rubble of the building he lived in following the massive earthquakes that hit Turkey on February 6. On February 7, Hatayspor vice president Mustafa Ozat told Turkish media that Atsu had been rescued (as quoted in this story), but on February 8 club doctor Gurbey Kahveci said Atsu remained missing as information that he had been transferred to a local hospital was not corroborated.
Ghana international winger Christian Atsu has been found alive after being buried under rubble in the earthquake that hit Turkey, the vice president of his football club has told the media.
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Atsu, who plays for Hatayspor, was reported missing in Turkey’s Hatay province following the magnitude 7.8 quake and its aftershocks that brought down thousands of buildings, killing some 5,000 people, in several Turkish and Syrian cities on Monday.
“Christian Atsu was pulled out injured. Our sporting director, Taner Savut, is unfortunately still under the rubble,” club vice president Mustafa Ozak told Radyo Gol on Tuesday.
Officials say as many as 1,500 buildings were destroyed in Hatay province.
Atsu, 31, played in the English Premier League for Newcastle United and Everton, on loan from Chelsea, and joined Hatayspor in September. He was last selected to play for Ghana in 2019, but has not officially retired from international football.
Ozat told beIN Sports on Monday that several players and officials had been rescued from the rubble.
“Praying for some positive news,” Newcastle had tweeted before Atsu was found.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) February 6, 2023
So far, more than 7,800 people have been rescued across 10 Turkish provinces, Orhan Tatar, an official with Turkey’s disaster management authority, said on Tuesday. Strained medical facilities have quickly filled with injured people, rescue workers said.
Governments and aid agencies have rushed to deploy rescue workers in the affected areas. However, emergency crews on the ground have remained few and far between, with their efforts impeded by frigid temperatures and close to 200 aftershocks, making the search through unstable structures perilous.
More bad weather is expected to hit the region, further hampering rescue operations. Downed buildings and destroyed roads have also made it difficult to find survivors and get crucial aid into affected areas. Several airports have also been closed after being damaged by the earthquakes.
Harrowing accounts are emerging from isolated areas, including in the Hatay region, where officials say many people reported relatives being trapped under the rubble with no aid or rescue teams arriving.