The sports world is mourning the loss of Ghanaian soccer star Christian Atsu, whose body was found in the rubble left behind by the Syria-Turkey earthquake that struck earlier this month. Atsu was discovered beneath his collapsed apartment building in the latter-mentioned country.
Nana Sechere, his agent, confirmed the horrific news on Saturday (Feb. 18). “It is with the heaviest of hearts that I have to announce to all well-wishers that, sadly, Christian Atsu’s body was recovered this morning,” Sechere began. “My deepest condolences go to his family and loved ones.”
“We are deeply saddened by the news [that] Christian Atsu lost his life in the devastation of the earthquakes that have hit Turkey and Syria. Our thoughts and condolences are with Christian’s family and friends and everyone affected by this tragic event,” said the Premier League in a statement.
Atsu played for the Hatayspor club in Antakya, the southern region of Turkey that suffered the most damage from the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on Feb. 6. The team won the day before in a Süper Lig game, and the 31-year-old was scheduled to fly out hours before the natural disaster, but instead, he chose to stay with his team.
“We will not forget you, Atsu. Peace be upon you, beautiful person. There are no words to describe our sadness,” wrote Hatayspor about the athlete. The team’s sporting director, Taner Savut, lived in the same building as the former Newcastle United player, but he has yet to be found.
The death toll from the devastating natural disaster has surpassed 45,000, with at least 39,672 dying in Turkey, according to Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu. As previously reported by REVOLT, Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay hopes to hold building contractors, architects and engineers responsible in connection with damaged structures. Last week, 131 people were identified, and at least 100 arrest warrants were issued. Among them was the contractor for the 12-story Rönesans Rezidans building where Atsu and Savut lived. He was detained at Istanbul Airport while seemingly attempting to flee the country, reported ESPN.
You can view Hatayspor’s tribute to Christian Atsu below.