Middle East

Ghanaian soccer player Christian Atsu found dead under earthquake rubble in Turkey

By Kareem El Damanhoury and Yusuf Gezer, CNN

CNN  —  The body of Ghana soccer star Christian Atsu was found under rubble on Saturday, according to his agent, almost two weeks after the earthquake that devastated Turkey and Syria.

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that I have to announce to all well wishers that sadly Christian Atsu’s body was recovered this morning,” Atsu’s agent Nana Sechere tweeted. “My deepest condolences go to his family and loved ones.”

The body of the Hatayspor player was recovered from under the rubble of a destroyed building in Antakya, Turkey’s state news channel TRT Haber reported on Saturday.

His body will be sent to Ghana, according to a statement by his club Hatayaspor on Twitter. “Peace be upon you, beautiful person. There are no words to describe our sadness,” the statement added.

Atsu went missing after the magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Turkey and Syria on February 6, killing at least 45,513 people, with at least 39,672 dying in Turkey, according to the latest number given by Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.

In the immediate aftermath, there was confusion as reports from Turkey originally said that Atsu had been located and was in a hospital, but on February 8, Sechere tweeted that it had come to light, contrary to reports, that Atsu was still missing.

Before joining Hatayspor last year, Atsu had played in the Saudi Pro League for Al Raed FC. He had also represented several English clubs, including Chelsea, Everton, Bournemouth and Newcastle.

Newcastle United, for whom Atsu played from 2016 to 2021, making 121 appearances and helping the club gain promotion to the English Premier League, tweeted: “We are profoundly saddened to learn that Christian Atsu has tragically lost his life in Turkey’s devastating earthquakes.

“A talented player and a special person, he will always be fondly remembered by our players, staff and supporters. Rest in peace, Christian.”

Everton said on Twitter that it was “deeply saddened, ” while Chelsea said in a statement that the club “sends our heartfelt condolences to Christian’s family and friends.”

Atsu represented his country 65 times, helping the Black Stars reach the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations final. Though Ghana lost that match to the Ivory Coast on penalties, Atsu was named player of the tournament.

Ghana’s Football Association sent its “deepest condolences” to Atsu’s wife and children.

CNN’s Talia Kayali, Philip Wang and Aimee Lewis contributed to reporting.

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