Christian Atsu rescued from rubble, agent says ‘stable’
Former Chelsea and Newcastle forward Christian Atsu was rescued from the rubble of a collapsed building following the deadly earthquake that struck Turkey, the Ghana Football Association (GFA) said in a Twitter post on Tuesday.
But Ahmet Eyup Turkaslan, a 28-year-old Turkish goalkeeper who plays for second-tier Turkish club Yeni Malatyaspor, died in the earthquake, his club tweeted.
Atsu, a Ghana international, plays for Turkish club Hatayspor. A club spokesman on Monday told the Turkish media that Atsu was thought to be in a building that was brought down by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake and aftershocks that struck southeastern Turkey and neighbouring Syria and has killed more than 5,000 people.
Atsu’s whereabouts and condition were unconfirmed overnight until the Ghana FA posted an update on its official Twitter site on Tuesday saying: “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.”
While Atsu was rescued, Hatayspor sporting director, Taner Savut, was still under the rubble. “Our sporting director, Taner Savut, is unfortunately still under the rubble,” club vice-president Mustafa Ozat told Radyo Gol.
Atsu was receiving treatment but the GFA didn’t give details of any injuries.
Atsu, 31, played in the 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.
Atsu had been celebrating on Sunday night after he scored a last-minute winner in his club’s 1-0 home league game against Kasimpasa, his agent Nana Sechere said. In fact, he had been playing poker until 3.30am local time with friends on Monday and got home around four in the morning.
“There were lots of reports out of England and Ghana that Christian was safe, but the first official confirmation I had was on Tuesday morning,” Sechere was quoted as saying by CNN.
“I was told by the club that he was in hospital and that he is stable. He doesn’t have his phone and, like all of us, he can’t remember his numbers by heart so I have to continue to wait to speak to him,” he said.
“He was in an 11-storey building and he was on the ninth floor. The club officials were trying to help me find him, but it was so hard because, understandably, they were trying to find their own friends and families as well,” Sechere added.
The quake hit early on Monday and was centred in Turkey’s southeastern province of Kahramanmaras. More than 6,000 buildings collapsed in Turkey alone and rescuers are racing to find survivors in freezing temperatures. Officials said as many as 1,500 buildings were destroyed in the Hatay province, where the Hatayspor club is based.
Written with inputs from AP/PTI