Footballer Christan Atsu's body found dead under rubble in southern Turkey

Footballer Christian Atsu has been found dead under the rubble of his home in the southern province of Hatay on the 13th day of major quakes that shook Turkey. Atsu joined Turkish club Hatayspor in September last year after spells with Everton, Chelsea and Newcastle United.

Reuters - Duvar English

Ghana winger Christian Atsu has been found dead under the building where he lived in Turkey's southern province of Hatay after last week's huge earthquake, his Turkish agent said on Feb. 18.

31-year-old Atsu had been missing since the Feb. 6 earthquake following the collapse of an apartment building in Hatay.

"Atsu's lifeless body was found under the rubble," Murat Uzunmehmet told reporters in Hatay. "Currently, more items are still being taken out. His phone was also found."

Atsu had been scheduled to fly out of southern Turkey hours before the quake but Hatayspor's manager said on Feb. 17 the Ghanaian had opted to stay with the club after scoring the winning goal in a Feb. 5 Super Lig match.

The Ghanaian foreign ministry said Atsu's elder brother and twin sister were at the site when his body was recovered. The embassy is arranging for the body to be transported to Ghana for burial.

The "government extends to the widow and family of Christian Atsu our deepest condolences," the ministry said in a statement.

Atsu was living in the 12-story Rönesans Residence, which has 250 apartments and was completed in 2013 in Hatay's Antakya district and was destroyed in the Maraş-centered earthquake with a magnitude of 7.7. After the earthquake, the building collapsed over its pool and damaged nearby buildings as well.

It is believed that approximately 1,000 people were living in the residence.

Atsu joined Hatayspor in September last year after spells with English Premier League clubs Everton, Chelsea and Newcastle United.

"We will not forget you, Atsu. Peace be upon you, beautiful person. There are no words to describe our sadness," Hatayspor said on Twitter.

Newcastle also paid tribute, saying: "A talented player and a special person, he will always be fondly remembered by our players, staff and supporters."

Former Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez described Atsu as a 'special person'.

"He was a nice lad and always had a smile, I'm really sad for him and everyone who knew him," he told Sky Sports.

Atsu won 65 caps for Ghana and helped them to reach the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations final, where they lost to Ivory Coast on penalties. He was last selected to play for Ghana in 2019.

He joined Chelsea from Porto in 2013 and had several loan spells at clubs including Vitesse and Bournemouth.

"Chelsea sends our heartfelt condolences to Christian's family and friends and to all those affected by the earthquake tragedy," the London club said.

More than 45,000 people have been killed in the earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria, and the toll is expected to rise further with some 264,000 apartments in Turkey destroyed and many still missing in the country's worst modern disaster.