• Close to 8,000 people have died in the earthquake
  • A Turkish soccer player lost his life
  • Former Premier League player Christian Atsu suffered injuries

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria on Monday has affected the country's sporting fraternity also.

Close to 8,000 people have reportedly lost their lives in the catastrophic natural disaster that struck southern Turkey and northern Syria in the early hours of Monday.

The death of Turkish goalkeeper Ahmet Eyup Turkaslan was the most heart-breaking news in the sporting world. Turkaslan was associated with the Turkish second-tier side Yeni Malatyaspor. The 28-year-old goalkeeper died after getting trapped under the rubble of a collapsed building in Turkey, the club confirmed in a statement Tuesday.

"Our goalkeeper, Ahmet Eyup Türkaslan, lost his life after being under the collapse of the earthquake. Rest in peace. We will not forget you, beautiful person," Yeni Malatyaspor tweeted.

After joining Yeni Malatyaspor in 2021, Turkaslan made six competitive appearances for the TFF First League side.

Former Premier League player Christian Atsu suffered injuries following the earthquake. The 31-year-old winger, who previously was associated with Chelsea, Newcastle United, and Everton, now plays for Turkish club Hatayspor. The club competes in the country's top-flight league Super Lig.

Atsu and the club's sporting director Taner Savut went missing in Kahramanmaras, where Hatayspor are based, following the quake. Atsu was later rescued.

Hatayspor vice president Mustafa Ozat confirmed Atsu has been rescued, while the search for Savut continues.

"Christian Atsu was taken out with injuries. Our sporting director, Taner Savut, is unfortunately still under the rubble. Hatay was deeply affected. We are coming towards the end of the most dangerous hours," Ozat said in an interview.

Three more players from Hatayspor were saved from the rubble: 27-year-old Burak Oksuz (defender), 20-year-old Bertug Yildirim (forward), and 30-year-old Onur Ergun (midfielder).

christian atsu
Atsu is Ghana's rising star. Reuters

Two members of Hatayspor's technical team – Ekrem Eksioglu and Osman Ates – also survived the wreckage. They are said to be in stable condition.

Hatayspor's Portuguese duo Ruben Ribeiro and Cape Verdean Ze Lui escaped unhurt, while defender Kerim Alici managed to get out of the rubble himself.