Ghana international soccer player Christian Atsu is missing after the earthquake in Turkey, his club and agent said Thursday, following earlier reports he was rescued from the rubble of a collapsed building and taken to a hospital.
Atsu's well-being and whereabouts were unknown. Aydin Toksoz, the deputy head of Hatayspor soccer club, told Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency news service that club sporting director Taner Savut was also missing after the massive earthquake that struck southern Turkey and Syria and has now killed more than 19,000 people, with that number expected to rise.
The 31-year-old Atsu, who previously played for English clubs Chelsea and Newcastle, signed for Hatayspor late last year. The club is based in the southern city of Antakya, near the epicenter of the earthquake that struck in the early hours of Monday and devastated the region. Atsu and Savut were believed to have been in buildings that collapsed, the club had said.
Nana Sechere, the agent for Atsu, said in messages to The Associated Press that he traveled to Turkey to try to find Atsu but the player "is yet to be found."
Hatayspor and the Ghana soccer association announced on Tuesday that Atsu was rescued from a ruined building on Monday night and taken to a medical facility for treatment.
Toksoz said Hatayspor was now "not able to confirm this information."
"We have not been able to reach Atsu or Taner Savut," Toksoz told the Anadolu Agency.
Ghana's ambassador to Turkey said she was also searching for Atsu. Francisca Ahsitey-Odunton told Ghanaian radio she was given a list of 200 hospitals or medical facilities that Atsu could have been sent to if he was rescued and she had also been unable to confirm where the player was.
She said she hoped he was in one of those hospitals and his location hadn't been confirmed: "in all the confusion, which is understandable under the circumstances."
Antakya is one of the cities hardest hit by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake, which has destroyed thousands of buildings in Turkey alone and sent more than 110,000 rescue personnel scrambling to find survivors trapped under the wreckage. More than 63,000 people have been injured in Turkey.
Atsu scored late in injury time to give Hatayspor a 1-0 win over Istanbul-based Kasimpaşa S.K. in the Turkish league on Sunday, earning him praise from his new club hours before the earthquake struck. (KB/VOA)