By Atanas Walila, Kakamega
The body of footballer Christian Atsu, who died after an earthquake hit Turkey, has been returned to Ghana.
The Ghanaian footballer died in Turkey in a deadly earthquake that killed over 25,000 people.
The footballer’s remains were accompanied from Turkey by his family and Ghana’s ambassador to Turkey, Francisca Ashietey Odunton.
Atsu’s death was confirmed on Saturday morning by his representative, Nana Sechere, “It is with the heaviest of hearts that I have to announce to all well-wishers that sadly Christian Atsu’s body was recovered this morning. My deepest condolences go to his family and loved ones.”
The plane landed on Sunday at 19:25 GMT in Accra where it was met by relatives, government officials and representatives of the Ghana Football Association.
Atsu was found dead under his home where he has been stuck since the deadly incident.
The footballer had been missing since the occurrence of the disastrous 7.8 magnitude earthquake on February 6 2023.
This caused the collapse of his apartment in Antakya, southern Turkey where he was living. He had been playing for Hatayspor club.
The Hatayspor club initially reported the player had been rescued with injuries, but their statement later changed and his agent confirmed the news of his death.
The winger played 65 times for Ghana’s national team and helped his side reach the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations final.
The 31-year-old also played for Everton and Newcastle in the England Premier League.
Speaking at Kotoka airport in Accra, Ghana’s Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia expressed their situation as the searching process for Atsu was going on.
“We hoped against hope, every day that passed, we prayed and prayed. But alas, when he was found, he was no more,” he said.
Mr Bawumia added the late footballer was much loved and would be sorely missed. He promised that Atsu will be given a befitting burial”It is a painful loss, a very painful one,” he lamented.
Atsu is remembered for establishing ‘Arms around the Child’ a charity organization which he has been an ambassador for since 2016.
He is also the main benefactor of that school which supports abandoned children, orphans, the chronically ill and those rescued from trafficking.
Fans have described him as “a young boy from poverty in Ghana who followed his dreams and used his talent and platform to help others.”