Former Chelsea and Newcastle forward Christian Atsu is missing and believed to be trapped under rubble after a powerful earthquake struck Turkey on Monday and killed more than 2,500 people. According to Turkish media, the Ghana international who plays for Turkish club Hatayspor is believed to be in a building that was destroyed, Hatayspor spokesman Mustafa Ozat said.
Özat said club director Taner Savut was also believed to be in the building that collapsed and club officials could not contact the two men. They were likely trapped, Ozat said. Ozat said at least two other Hatespor players had to be pulled out of the rubble, but are now safe. He added that Etsu and Savut were the only two Hatespor players or officials still unaccounted for.
Atsu, 31, joined Hatayspor based in the southern city of Antakya last year after a spell in Saudi Arabia. A 7.8-magnitude earthquake rattled large parts of Turkey and neighboring Syria early Monday.
The earthquake was centered in Turkey’s southeastern province of Kahanmaras and was felt as far as Cairo in Egypt. Hours later, a second 7.5 magnitude shock, which was likely an aftershock, occurred more than 100 kilometers (60 mi) from the epicenter and caused more destruction.
Christian Atsu, we are praying for you. , https://t.co/KSG2YeGpP0 pic.twitter.com/KNvQExSfid— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 6, 2023
Turkish officials said more than 3,700 buildings were destroyed., The death toll is expected to rise. Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo expressed condolences to the Turkish people on his official Facebook account, saying: “We pray that our fellow Ghanaian Christian Atsu is found safe and sound.”
Henry Asante-Twum, a spokesman for the Ghana Football Association, wrote in an email to The Associated Press that he had no news about Atsu and that Ghana’s international relations department was seeking information from the Turkish authorities. Ibrahim Kwarteng, a friend of Atsu, said he had tried calling Atsu but could not reach him. “We are just praying that he is found,” Kwarteng said.
Kwarteng runs a foundation in Ghana that helps ex-prisoners convicted of minor crimes reintegrate into society after their release from prison. He added that Atsu was the largest donor to the foundation. Newcastle said on its official Twitter account that it was “praying for some positive news” regarding Atsu.
(With PTI inputs)