Former Newcastle midfielder Christian Atsu has been rescued from the rubble of a Turkish building which collapsed during the devastating earthquake in the region on Monday, according to the Ghana Football Association.
The 31-year-old Ghana international, now playing his football with Turkish Super Lig side Hatayspor, was unaccounted for alongside his club’s sporting director Taner Savut in the aftermath of the disaster that has left more than 5,000 people dead.
There were conflicting reports about Atsu’s status on Monday evening, but Ghana’s national football governing body provided a positive update on social media on Tuesday morning.
A Ghana Football Association tweet read: “Update: We’ve received some positive news that Christian Atsu has been successfully rescued from the rubble of the collapsed building and is receiving treatment. Let’s continue to pray for Christian.”
There was no mention of Savut in the post, with Hatayspor also not yet providing any updates via their own social media channels, but the club’s vice-president Mustafa Ozat told Radyo Gol: “Christian Atsu was taken out with injuries. Our sporting director, Taner Savut, is unfortunately still under the rubble.”
He added: “Hatay was deeply affected. We are coming towards the end of the most dangerous hours.”
Atsu joined Chelsea from Porto in 2013 on a five-year contract and spent most of the following four years on loan before agreeing a permanent deal with Newcastle in 2017.
The Magpies shared their relief at Tuesday’s developments, with a tweet from the club in response to the Ghana FA update reading: “Welcome news. Our thoughts remain with Christian, his loved ones and all those affected by Monday’s devastating earthquakes.”
One of Atsu’s loan spells was at Everton, who also responded to the good news on social media.
A tweet from the club’s account read: “We are relieved to hear @ChristianAtsu20 has been found and is recovering in hospital. Our thoughts continue to be with everyone affected by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.”
A 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit south-eastern Turkey and northern Syria during the early hours of Monday morning, followed by a second measuring 7.5.
The Turkish Football Federation confirmed postponements as a result of the disaster in a statement, which read: “Due to the loss of life, the injured and the ongoing search and rescue efforts as a result of the earthquake felt in many provinces, all matches that were planned to be played on Wednesday, February 8, in the TFF 2nd League, have been postponed to a later date.
“May God have mercy on our citizens who lost their lives in the earthquake that stifled our country; We express our condolences to the families, relatives and nation of our citizens and wish a speedy recovery to the injured.”
Wembley’s arch was lit up in the colour of the Turkish and Syrian flags, accompanied by the message ‘Our thoughts are with the people of Turkey and Syria’.