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Pleas for help grow urgent as Christian Atsu remains missing in Turkey

Rescue workers in Turkey and Syria are hampered by limited equipment and sluggish access to humanitarian aid following a pair of powerful earthquakes on Feb 6. (Video: Joe Snell/The Washington Post)
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Christian Atsu remains missing since a massive earthquake struck Turkey and Syria last week, and the agent for the former Premier League soccer player pleaded Tuesday for more resources to assist the ongoing search.

Nana Sechere wrote in a thread of tweets that Atsu’s room in his collapsed apartment building in the hard-hit Hatay province was located along with two pairs of his shoes, but Atsu himself was not.

“It has been nine days since the earthquake and we still have not located Christian,” Sechere wrote. “I am at the quake site in Hatay with Christian’s family. The scenes are unimaginable and our hearts are broken for all the people affected.

“Yesterday we received confirmation that thermal imagery was showing signs of up to five lives, however I am told that the only real confirmation of life is through sight, smell and sound, and unfortunately we were not able to locate Christian. This is a difficult situation and we are extremely grateful to all the Turkish and foreign rescue teams, local civilians and volunteers for their efforts and response in rescuing survivors. However, we urgently need more resources, including a translator, on the ground.”

Atsu, who was on Ghana’s national team at the 2014 World Cup and played in the Premier League for Chelsea, Everton, Bournemouth and Newcastle United, joined Hatayspor of the Turkish Super Lig last year after a brief stint with Saudi club Al-Raed. Hatayspor officials initially said last week that an injured Atsu had been found, but those reports proved erroneous in the chaos and devastation that have claimed nearly 38,000 lives.

“Things are moving incredibly slow and as a result of that many rescues are being delayed, and lives are being lost due to the lack of resources available to the workers,” Sechere wrote. “It is unfortunate that the club is not on the ground with us, side by side, in the search for Christian.

“Their position and influence, accompanied with their local knowledge would be extremely helpful. We implore the president of the club and mayor of Hatay, Lütfü Savaş, to provide additional resources to speed up the rescue efforts as a priority.”

Last week, Atsu’s partner also asked that more resources be urgently devoted to rescue efforts.

“I still pray, and believe that he is alive,” Claire Rupio, who lives in England, told BBC News. “I appeal for the Hatayspor club, the Turkish authorities and the British government to send out the equipment to get people out of the rubble — especially my partner and father of my children.

“They need the equipment to get them out — they can’t get that deep without the equipment. And time is running out.”