Ex-Premier League star Christian Atsu found dead after Turkey earthquake
"A talented player and a special person."
Footballer Christian Atsu has been found dead under the rubble of his home almost two weeks after Turkey was hit by a devastating earthquake. He was 31.
The Ghana international, who played for Premier League sides Chelsea, Everton and Newcastle, had been missing since the 6 February quake that caused the collapse of his apartment in the city of Hatay.
As of Saturday, the death toll from the Turkey-Syria earthquakes has passed 45,000. The total number of people killed in Turkey hit 39,672, while the Syrian government and the UN have said that more than 5,800 people have died there, Aljazeera reported.
Atsu, who had three kids with his wife Marie-Claire, had been scheduled to fly out of Turkey hours before the quake.
The footballer's club, Hatayspor, initially reported he was rescued "with injuries" but a day later that position changed.
"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," his agent Nana Sechere tweeted on Saturday.
I ask that whilst we make the necessary arrangements, that everyone would please respect the privacy of the family during this very difficult time.
— Nana Sechere (@iAmNana7) February 18, 2023
"My deepest condolences go to his family and loved ones. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their prayers and support."
Atsu joined the Turkish top-flight side Hatayspor in September 2022 and scored the winning goal in a Super Lig match on 5 February.
This was Christian Atsu's final game in his professional football career: 90th minute free-kick to win the game for Hatayspor. Less than 24 hours later, the earthquake happened…
Such devastating news. RIP Atsu. 😢❤️ pic.twitter.com/3mn0eey0XR
— EuroFoot (@eurofootcom) February 18, 2023
The Sun quoted Atsu's manager, Murat Uzunmehmet, as saying the footballer's "lifeless body was found under the rubble" and that "more items are still being taken out".
"His phone was also found," the manager added.
The publication said rescue workers found Atsu's body where he was staying at Ronesans Residence - a 12-storey block of luxury flats that toppled over in Antakya city in Hatay.
Hataspor wrote on Twitter: "The funeral of our football player Christian Atsu, who lost his life under the collapse, is on his way to be sent to his hometown Ghana.
"We will not forget you, Atsu. Peace be upon you, beautiful person. There are no words to describe our sadness. Rest in peace."
Başımız sağ olsun.
Göçük altında kalarak hayatını kaybeden futbolcumuz Christian Atsu'nun cenazesi memleketi Gana'ya gönderilmek üzere yola çıkmıştır. Seni unutmayacağız Atsu. Mekanın cennet olsun güzel insan. Üzüntümüzün tarifi yok. Huzur içinde uyu. pic.twitter.com/2CSVfwfEuR
— Hatayspor (@Hatayspor_FK) February 18, 2023
We are deeply saddened by today's news that Christian Atsu has been found dead following the earthquake in Turkey earlier this month.
Our thoughts are with his family, friends, colleagues at @Hatayspor_FK and everyone affected by this tragic event that has claimed so many lives. pic.twitter.com/W3mWlMcAuf
— Everton (@Everton) February 18, 2023
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. 🖤🤍
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) February 18, 2023