Former Chelsea and Newcastle player Christian Atsu’s Turkish club have said that they cannot find him at the hospital he’s reportedly been taken to.
Atsu, who plays for Hatayspor, was understood to have been rescued from a destroyed building on Monday following a 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Turkey and Syria.
The club’s vice president Mustafa Ozat had confirmed that Atsu was taken out of the rubble with injuries.
But, according to Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, there are now fears the footballer was not among those found in the rubble.
Hatayspor’s club doctor Gurbey Kahveci said: ‘When we heard the news that “he was taken to Dortyol Hospital”, we especially went and looked, but he was not there.
At the moment we accept that Savut Taner [sporting director] and Christian Atsu were not found, unfortunately.’
The devastating event has seen the death toll hit 11,000, making it the deadliest earthquake for a decade.
Atsu’s agent Nana Sechere also revealed that the player’s location is unknown, tweeting on Wednesday morning: ‘Following yesterday’s update from the club that, Christian had been pulled out alive, we are yet to confirm Christian’s whereabouts.
“As you can imagine, this continues to be a devastating time for his family and we are doing everything we can to locate Christian.”
It comes after Atsu’s team-mate Kerim Alici, a close friend, had confirmed on Turkish TV that the player had been rescued alive, which has prompted further confusion over whether the player has been found or not.
Atsu’s agent Sechere, who is in London and not in Turkey with the player, has also revealed that the 31-year-old had plunged from the ninth floor of his apartment building when the devastating earthquake hit.
He explained that 20 minutes after returning home from a poker night with team-mates, Atsu was sent plunging to the ground.
‘The last I heard from him was at midnight on Sunday. Christian and his teammates were playing poker until 3:30 am at a friend’s apartment,’ Sechere told the Mirror.
Following yesterday’s update from the club that, Christian had been pulled out alive, we are yet to confirm Christian’s whereabouts. As you can imagine, this continues to be a devastating time for his family and we are doing everything we can to locate Christian.
‘The journey back to his apartment was around half an hour. He returned at 4 am and the earthquake started around 20 minutes later. I didn’t know anything until I received a call from a club official at 5 am asking if I’d heard from Christian.
“He told me Christian’s building had been completely destroyed and that they couldn’t get hold of him.”
Footage shared on social media by Ajansspor showed a team attempting to rescue Atsu in the village of Ekinci in the Adıyaman District.
It is claimed in the video that voices of Atsu and sporting director Taner Savut can be heard. Hurriyet detailed on Tuesday that there is an anxious wait to find Savut with rescue teams navigating the rubble.
Atsu was in action on Sunday for Hatayspor, scoring a goal in the seventh minute of stoppage time in a 1-0 victory over Kasimpasa.
In a message after the game, he wrote: ‘Important win for the team. Happy to be on the scoresheet.’
The earthquake hit hard in Kahramanmaras, where Hatayspor are based.
Hatayspor players Burak Oksuz, Kerem Alici and Onur Ergun, as well as team officials Ekrem Eksioglu and Osman Ates, were rescued from the rubble on the first day, it was reported.
Atsu was part of the Newcastle team which won promotion back to the Premier League in 2017 after joining on loan for the season from Chelsea and later completed a permanent move. He has also won 65 caps for Ghana.