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Christian Atsu Still Missing After Turkey Earthquake Despite Reports, Club Says

todayFebruary 8, 2023 2

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The whereabouts of Christian Atsu, a professional soccer player for the Turkish club Hatayspor, remained unknown on Wednesday, club officials said, despite their earlier statements that he had been rescued from the rubble of the earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria and was receiving medical treatment.

It was unclear whether Mr. Atsu, a Ghanaian national, was still trapped underneath the rubble in Hatay Province, Turkey, or whether he had been removed but could not be located in the region’s overwhelmed hospitals. Hatay was one of the hardest-hit areas and had one of the highest death tolls from the earthquake.

Mustafa Ozat, the team’s vice president, said the information he had been given when he told a radio station on Tuesday that Mr. Atsu had been rescued was wrong.

“I had received information that Christian Atsu was removed from the rubble. However, the information received at the moment is that Atsu and our director Taner Savut are under the rubble,” Mr. Ozat told the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet on Wednesday.

Ghana’s ambassador to Turkey, Francisca Ashietey-Odunton, told the Ghanaian media outlet Joy Sports on Wednesday that the Turkish foreign ministry was still searching for Mr. Atsu in medical facilities, illustrating how difficult it has become to communicate or verify information amid the earthquake’s destruction.

Ms. Ashietey-Odunton was in Ankara, the Turkish capital, and could not travel to Hatay herself because of road and airport closures, she said.

In the hours before the earthquake hit, Mr. Atsu had scored a winning goal for Hatayspor in its match against a team from Istanbul. The fate of Hatayspor’s other players remains unclear, and its manager, Volkan Demirel, has made public pleas for aid.

“I thought the day of judgment had come. I immediately thought of my players,” Mr. Demirel told Hurriyet about the moment the earthquake hit.

“May God not cause such pain to anyone,” he added.

Seda Ozturk contributed translation.

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