The partner of footballer Christian Atsu, who has been missing since the earthquake in Turkey on Monday, has called for equipment to be sent to the collapsed building where he was living.
It was reported that Atsu, who plays for Turkish club Hatayspor, was rescued from a building with injuries. But a day later his agent later confirmed his whereabouts are unknown.
Claire Rupio, who lives in Newcastle, UK, said: "I still pray, and believe that he is alive.” She says that conflicting reports about his whereabouts have been confusing and shocking, revealing their children heard on the radio that he was still missing.
“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”, she said, “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!”
More than 21,000 people have died in southern Turkey and northern Syria since the earthquake and aftershocks that followed. Atsu - together with Taner Savut, the sporting director of Atsu’s club Hatayspor - has not been seen since Monday’s quake.
On Tuesday, Hatayspor’s vice-president told Turkish media that Atsu had been found alive, but on Wednesday other figures from the club, as well as Atsu’s agent Nana Sechere said they had not been able to confirm this. Rupio said that the agent is now in Turkey and attempting to get to the building in Hatay that Atsu is inside.
Sechere tweeted on Thursday: "The situation remains the same, Christian Atsu is yet to be found. Unless I see Christian, or speak with him, I have no further updates. They know where the building is, and they’re trying their best to rescue everybody,” added Rupio.
“They know there are people still trapped under the rubble, but the problem is that they don’t have the equipment necessary to get them out. So he’s still missing, and we don’t know where he is.” Having last spoken to Atsu on Saturday morning, Rupio described the inaccurate news from the club about him having been rescued as “shocking.”
“The club were confirming that he was found and was alive and taken to hospital, and 11 hours later my children had to hear from the radio that they still did not know where he is,” she said. “I know that his agent is there, and trying their best to find him. He will obviously bring me the news that I can trust, if he sees him or speaks to him.
“Everything is confusing.” Atsu, 31, played 107 games for Newcastle and had spells with Chelsea, Everton and Bournemouth.
The Premier League has announced it will donate £1m to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Appeal to deliver humanitarian aid to those in Turkey and Syria in need of it. Players and officials in the Premier League have been, and will, be wearing black armbands at matches this weekend.