Former Premier League star Christian Atsu has been found alive but injured following the tragic 7.7 magnitude earthquake in Turkey, it has been confirmed.
The former Chelsea and Newcastle winger, now of Super Lig side Hatayspor, was missing after a series of devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria claimed more than 4,000 lives.
Atsu was caught up in the natural disaster in Kahramanmaras, where Hatayspor are based, along with the club’s sporting director Taner Savut.
Hatayspor vice-chairman Mustafa Ozat has now confirmed that Atsu was rescued from the rubble but injured, while the search for Savut continues.
Speaking to Radyo Gol, Ozat said: “Christian Atsu has been injured. Our sporting director Taner Savut is unfortunately still under the rubble.
He added: “Hatay was deeply affected. We are nearing the end of the most dangerous hours.
Ghana’s ambassador to Turkey, Francisca Ashitey-Odunton, has received reports from the country’s football authorities that Atsu has been found.
Atsu’s teammate Kerim Alici, a close friend, also confirmed on Turkish TV that the player had been rescued.
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Two other Hatayspor players – Burak Oksuz and Bertug Yildirim – were also rescued from the rubble.
And two members of the technical team – Ekrem Eksioglu and Osman Ates – also survived the wreckage, in good health.
Atsu’s teammates Onur Ergun and Burak Oksuz were found alive by rescue teams on Monday and Hatayspor’s Portuguese players Ruben Ribeiro and Cape Verdean Ze Luis are safe.
Meanwhile, Hatayspor defender Kerim Alici has emerged from the rubble himself.
Ghana international Atsu joined Chelsea in 2013, where he was loaned out to Everton and Bournemouth, as well as Vitesse, Malaga and Newcastle.
The Magpies turned his temporary stint into a permanent move in 2017 after Atsu helped the Toon win the league title.
He stayed at the club until 2021, before moving to the Middle East where he then returned to Europe last year to join Hatayspor.
Newcastle took to social media to send support for Atsu amid the search, as they tweeted: “Pray for positive news Christian Atsu.”
Meanwhile, Chelsea tweeted: “We are praying for you Christian Atsu.”
Atsu scored his first goal for the club at the weekend before the earthquake struck in a 1-0 win over Kasimpasa.
So far, it is feared that at least 4,100 people have died in the earthquake that hit the country around 4am on Monday morning.
And experts said that figure could rise to 10,000 people after Turkey was hit by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake soon after.