Confusion over footballer Christian Atsu’s safety in Turkey

The Ghanaian winger’s Turkish club, Hatayspor, say he remains missing following the earthquake, a day after he was reportedly rescued.

Ghana's Christian Atsu, left, is challenged by Cameroon's Zoua Daogari Jacques, right, during the African Cup of Nations semifinal soccer match between Cameroon and Ghana
Atsu, left, in action for Ghana during the 2017 African Cup of Nations semifinal in Franceville, Gabon [File: Sunday Alamba/AP Photo]

Ghanaian winger Christian Atsu remains missing in Turkey after devastating earthquakes struck the country and Syria, his club has told news agencies, despite earlier reports that he had been rescued.

On Tuesday, Atsu, 31, was reported to have been pulled alive from the rubble of a building in Turkey’s southern Hatay province and transported to hospital with injuries following Monday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake and its aftershocks.

But on Wednesday, Hatayspor coach Volkan Demirel said the search for Atsu was continuing.

“There is no information on his whereabouts yet, we don’t know where he is,” Demirel told the Reuters news agency. “It’s not the case that he was pulled out or taken anywhere else.”

On Tuesday, club vice president Mustafa Ozat told Turkish media that Atsu had been rescued and that the club’s sporting director, Taner Savut, remained under the rubble.

However, Hatayspor’s doctor Gurbey Kahveci told Turkish media on Wednesday that they could not locate Atsu or Savut.

“[The club was told Atsu] ‘was taken to Dortyol Hospital’, and when the news came, we went and looked, but he is not there,” Kahveci said.

“Unfortunately, we accept that Taner and Christian Atsu have not been found at the moment.”

Atsu’s image agent Gaynor Frascione said she was worried about her client.

“Everyone is trying to locate in which medical centre he could be,” she told the AFP news agency.

“We don’t know [if he’s still alive]. There were also 18 Ghanaian students in this building, the ambassador for Turkey said he was rescued, a doctor made a statement, but it’s complete mayhem,” she added.

Atsu, 31, spent four seasons at Chelsea before a permanent transfer to Newcastle in 2017. He signed in September for Turkish Super Lig side Hatayspor, based in Hatay, near the epicentre of the earthquake.

He wore the last of his 60 Ghana national caps in September 2019.

Dozens of nations have offered aid since the earthquake hit with freezing weather hampering emergency efforts. The latest estimate of the death toll in Turkey and Syria is more than 16,000.

The Turkish Football Federation announced in the wake of the earthquake that all club games had been postponed indefinitely.

If you want to learn about how to donate to the Turkey and Syria earthquake disaster response, go here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies