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Ghana soccer player Atsu still missing after Turkey earthquake despite reports he'd been found

Earlier reports indicated the 31-year-old had been rescued and was recovering at a hospital. But his club manager said Thursday his whereabouts were still unknown.

WASHINGTON — Ghana international soccer player Christian Atsu is still missing after the earthquake in Turkey, his club and agent said on Thursday, despite earlier reports he was rescued from the rubble of a collapsed building and taken to a hospital.

Atsu's whereabouts were still unknown, Aydin Toksoz, the deputy head of Hatayspor soccer club, told Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency news service. The club's sporting director, Taner Savut, was also missing after the massive earthquake that struck southern Turkey and Syria and has now killed more than 17,000 people.

The 31-year-old Atsu, who previously played for Chelsea and Newcastle in England, signed for Hatayspor late last year. The club is based in the southern city of Antakya, near the epicenter of the earthquake that struck in the early hours of Monday and devastated the region. Atsu and Savut were believed to have been in buildings that collapsed, the club had said.

Nana Sechere, the agent for Atsu, said in messages to The Associated Press that he traveled to Turkey to try and find Atsu but the player “is yet to be found.”

Hatayspor and the Ghana Football Association announced on Tuesday that Atsu was rescued from a ruined building on Monday night and taken to a medical facility for treatment.

Toksoz said Hatayspor was now "not able to confirm this information.”

"We have not been able to reach Atsu or Taner Savut,” Toksoz told the Anadalou Agency.

Ghana's ambassador to Turkey said she was also searching for Atsu. Francisca Ahsitey-Odunton told Ghanaian radio she was given a list of 200 hospitals or medical facilities that Atsu could have been sent to if he was rescued and she had also been unable to confirm where the player was.

She said she hoped he was in one of those hospitals and his location hadn't been confirmed “in all the confusion, which is understandable under the circumstances."

Antakya is one of the cities hardest hit by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake, which destroyed thousands of buildings in Turkey alone and sent more than 110,000 rescue personnel scrambling to find survivors trapped under wreckage. More than 63,000 people have been injured in Turkey.

The death toll from the earthquake is the highest worldwide since a 2011 earthquake off Japan triggered a tsunami, killing nearly 20,000 people.

Atsu scored late in injury time to give Hatayspor a 1-0 win over Istanblul-based Kasimpaşa S.K. in the Turkish League on Sunday, earning him praise from his new club hours before the earthquake struck.


AP writers Suzan Fraser and Francis Kokutse contributed to this report.

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