ISTANBUL (AP) — Search teams have recovered the body of Ghanaian international soccer player Christian Atsu in the ruins of a building that collapsed during the devastating earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria, his manager said Saturday.
The remains of the soccer star, who had been playing for Turkish Super Lig club Hatayspor, were found in what was left of a luxury 12-story building where he had been living in the hard-hit city of Antakya, Hatay province.
“Atsu’s lifeless body was found under the rubble. At the moment, his belongings are still being removed,” manager Murat Uzunmehmet told private news agency DHA.
The death toll from the 7.8-magnitude quake on Feb. 6 in southeastern Turkey and northern Syria passed 43,000 on Friday and was certain to increase as search teams find more bodies.
The 31-year-old Atsu, who previously played for English Premier League clubs Chelsea, Newcastle United, Everton and Bournemouth, signed for Hatayspor from a Saudi side late last year.
Hatayspor said Atsu’s body was being repatriated to Ghana. “There are no words to describe our sadness,” the club tweeted.
Reports a day after the quake struck had said that Atsu was pulled alive from the rubble of a collapsed building and taken to a hospital for treatment. The club, however, announced days later that Atsu and the club’s sporting director, Taner Savut, were still missing. Savut has not yet been found.
The contractor of the luxury 12-story Ronesans Rezidans building — where Atsu and Savut lived — was detained at Istanbul Airport a week ago, apparently trying to leave the country.