Soccer player Christian Atsu has been found dead almost two weeks on from the earthquake which hit Turkiye and buried him under the rubble of his home his agent said on Saturday. The Ghana international's agent Nana Sechere confirmed the news and his club Hatayspor also confirmed the losses of both Atsu and staff member Onur Akdeniz.
Upwards of 40,000 people have been killed and thousands more have been injured after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Turkiye and Syria almost two weeks ago, followed by strong aftershocks that included a 7.5 quake the following day. CBS News has you covered with the latest developments.
Atsu spent time in the Premier League with Chelsea, Newcastle United, and Everton, and only joined Hatayspor for this season after a stint in Saudi Arabia. The 31-year-old had been missing since Feb. 6 after the massive earthquake collapsed his apartment in Antakya, Hatay, in the badly hit area of Kahramanmaras as families slept.
"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," said Atsu's representative Sechere, who had been in Hatay for over a week, on Saturday. "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."
"There are no words to describe our sadness," added Hatayspor via social media. "We will not forget you, Atsu. Peace be upon you, beautiful person."
Ghanian footballer Christian Atsu has been found dead under the rubble of his home following the earthquake in Turkey earlier this month.— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) February 18, 2023
Rest in peace, Christian. pic.twitter.com/LZVJWRQkmq
There was initial confusion when it was reported that Atsu had been rescued with injuries before that was found to be incorrect and the player has lost his life along with Yeni Malatyaspor goalkeeper Ahmet Eyup Turkaslan whose body has been recovered according to Yagiz Sabuncuoglu.
Atsu was playing for Hatayspor and scored a late winning goal in a 1-0 win over Kasimpasa just hours before the earthquake hit. His most recent social media update expressed his happiness at scoring that winning goal, less than 24 hours before the earthquake: "Important win for the team," he wrote. "Happy to be on the scoresheet."
Atsu played for Chelsea and Newcastle in the past and won 65 caps for the Black Stars. His former clubs all publicly stated their hope for positive news regarding the search for Atsu in the immediate aftermath and are now united in their grief at his loss.
"We are profoundly saddened to learn that Christian Atsu has tragically lost his life in Turkiye's devastating earthquakes," said the Magpies. "A talented player and a special person, he will always be fondly remembered by our players, staff and supporters."
Everton said that they are "deeply saddened" by the news, and Chelsea have also publicly stated themselves to be "devastated" by the news.
CBS Sports will continue to update this news story with more developments as they materialize. For more news on the earthquake and local rescue efforts, follow CBS News.