Former Chelsea and Newcastle forward Christian Atsu is missing and believed to be trapped under rubble following the powerful earthquake that struck Turkey on Monday and left more than 2,500 people dead.
The Ghana international, who plays for Turkish club Hatayspor, is thought to be in a building that was destroyed, Hatayspor spokesman Mustafa Özat said, according to Turkish media.
Özat said club director Taner Savut was also believed to be in a building that collapsed and club officials couldn’t contact both men. They were likely trapped, Özat said.
At least two other Hatayspor players had to be pulled out of rubble but were now safe, Özat said. Atsu and Savut were the only two Hatayspor players or officials still unaccounted for, he added.
The 31-year-old Atsu joined Hatayspor, which is based in the southern city of Antakya, last year after a spell playing in Saudi Arabia.
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked large parts of Turkey and neighboring Syria in the pre-dawn hours of Monday.
The quake was centered in Turkey’s southeastern province of Kahramanmaras, and was felt as far away as Cairo in Egypt. Hours later, a second 7.5 magnitude jolt, which was possibly an aftershock, struck more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) away from the epicenter of the earthquake and caused more destruction.
Turkish authorities said more than 3,700 buildings were destroyed. The death toll is expected to rise.
Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo offered condolences to the people of Turkey on his official Facebook account and added: “We pray that our fellow Ghanaian, Christian Atsu, is found safe and sound.”
Ghana Football Association spokesman Henry Asante-Twum wrote in an email to The Associated Press that they had no news of Atsu and Ghana’s international relations department was seeking information from Turkish authorities.
Ibrahim Kwarteng, a friend of Atsu, said he had tried calling Atsu but couldn’t reach him.
“We are only praying that he will be found,” Kwarteng said.
Kwarteng runs a foundation in Ghana that helps former prisoners convicted of petty crimes to be reintegrated into society after their release from jail. He said Atsu was the single largest donor to the foundation.
Newcastle said on its official Twitter account it was “praying for some positive news” regarding Atsu.