Former Premier League footballer Christian Atsu is amongst those trapped under rubble in Turkey after a huge earthquake, according to reports.
A search and rescue operation is underway after Atsu, who formerly played for Chelsea and Newcastle United, was caught up in the 7.7 magnitude earthquake. The 65-cap Ghana international joined Super Lig club Hataysport last summer.
Several members of his new team had to be rescued after the earthquake and Atsu is now reported to be amongst those still missing as a search and rescue operation gets underway. The club’s sporting director, Taner Savut, is also trapped as efforts to free them continue.
Atsu joined Chelsea as a youngster in 2013 from Porto before being sent on a number of loan spells. He spent time at Everton and Bournemouth before making a permanent switch to Newcastle United in 2017 having never played a Premier League game for Chelsea.
He left the Magpies having played over 100 games in 2021 to join Saudi side Al-Raed but departed the Middle East for Turkey in the summer. He scored his first goal for the club this weekend, just hours before the earthquake struck.
More than 1,300 people have lost their lives in the disaster, with a further 6,000 injured, according to officials. A massive aftershock with a magnitude of 7.5 hit Turkey’s south hours after the original quake. Reports say it was felt once again in Syria and also Iraqi Kurdistan.
Other footballers and sportspeople have been caught up in the chaos. The wife of Hatayspor manager Volkan Demirel shared a tearful message after a massive aftershock with a magnitude of 7.5 hit Turkey’s south hours after the original quake.
“Hatay is in a very bad way,” Zeynep Sever Demirel said in a video shared on social media. A number of her friends were believed to still be trapped under rubble, with fears that more footballers could also be affected by the disaster.
Turkish goalkeeper Eyup Turkaslan was also among those trapped under rubble, with Yeni Malatyaspor, where Turkaslan plays his football, sharing a photo of the goalkeeper with the caption ‘Our prayers are with you’.
According to Haber Global, footballers from the Marasspor team may have been staying in a hotel destroyed in the aftermath of the quake. A men’s volleyball team and a girls’ under-14 volleyball team were also reportedly affected, with some survivors being pulled from the rubble.
A number of wrestlers are also believed to be trapped, according to Birgun. Taha Akgul, an Olympic champion wrestler from Turkey, has called for help amid suggestions between 30 and 40 of the athletes have been affected.
“I convey my best wishes to all our citizens who were affected by the earthquake that occurred in Kahramanmaraş and was felt in many parts of our country,” Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement.