Ghana Soccer Player Atsu's Well-being, Whereabouts Unknown

People inspect the damage as rescuers search for survivors in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake in Hatay, Türkiye, February 8. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
People inspect the damage as rescuers search for survivors in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake in Hatay, Türkiye, February 8. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
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Ghana Soccer Player Atsu's Well-being, Whereabouts Unknown

People inspect the damage as rescuers search for survivors in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake in Hatay, Türkiye, February 8. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
People inspect the damage as rescuers search for survivors in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake in Hatay, Türkiye, February 8. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

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

Atsu's well-being and whereabouts were unknown. Aydin Toksoz, the deputy head of Hatayspor soccer club, told Türkiye 's state-run Anadolu Agency news service that club sporting director Taner Savut was also missing after the massive earthquake that struck southern Türkiye and Syria and has now killed more than 19,000 people, with that number expected to rise.

The 31-year-old Atsu, who previously played for English clubs Chelsea and Newcastle, 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 Türkiye to try to find Atsu but the player “is yet to be found.”

Hatayspor and the Ghana soccer 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 Anadolu Agency.

Ghana's ambassador to Türkiye 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.



A Street in The Hague Gets an All-Encompassing Orange Facelift for Euro 2024 

A women walks past inflatable soccer balls, orange tarp, orange bunting, and Dutch national flags as she walks along Marktweg street in The Hague, Netherlands, Thursday June 13, 2024, one day ahead of the start of the Euro 2024 Soccer Championship. (AP)
A women walks past inflatable soccer balls, orange tarp, orange bunting, and Dutch national flags as she walks along Marktweg street in The Hague, Netherlands, Thursday June 13, 2024, one day ahead of the start of the Euro 2024 Soccer Championship. (AP)
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A Street in The Hague Gets an All-Encompassing Orange Facelift for Euro 2024 

A women walks past inflatable soccer balls, orange tarp, orange bunting, and Dutch national flags as she walks along Marktweg street in The Hague, Netherlands, Thursday June 13, 2024, one day ahead of the start of the Euro 2024 Soccer Championship. (AP)
A women walks past inflatable soccer balls, orange tarp, orange bunting, and Dutch national flags as she walks along Marktweg street in The Hague, Netherlands, Thursday June 13, 2024, one day ahead of the start of the Euro 2024 Soccer Championship. (AP)

The fluttering of 64 kilometers (40 miles) of orange bunting and a hammer driving a nail into a wall to hold up orange tarps are the sounds of a Dutch summer of soccer in a normally drab suburban street in The Hague.

The Marktweg is one of several streets in the Netherlands that get an all-encompassing orange facelift during European Championships and World Cups when the national team — known as Oranje after the Dutch royal family and the color of their shirts — are looking to add to the Euro it won 36 years ago.

For two months leading up to Euro 2024 that starts on Friday in Germany, a dedicated team of up to 10 volunteers — more in the weekends — has been decorating their street, creating not just an orange overload, but also a sense of community.

Houses are plastered with orange tarps and banners, street lights and trees are wrapped in orange, garbage containers are — you guessed it — orange, while litter bins are red, white and blue, the equally patriotic colors of the Dutch flag.

Even a crew of municipal workers fits in, decked out in uniforms of orange high-visibility clothes.

Macho Vink, a 35-year-old truck driver, is on a cherry picker banging nails into the walls of houses to secure tarps that cover the entire length of the street.

“It's time for a big party,” he said. “Get some positivity back,” he added as the driver of a passing car tooted his horn and gave a thumbs up.

The decorations appeared in the street for the first time during Euro 1988 — where the Netherlands won its only major soccer tournament — in West Germany.

Danny van Dijk, one of the driving forces behind the decorations, said it's been getting bigger and better ever since, with sponsorship from local businesses now helping to foot the bill.

“It started as a joke — hang a ball sprayed with text in a tree,” Van Dijk told The Associated Press.

But the ball idea quickly snowballed into what has become arguably the orangest place on the planet, though some other equally lavishly decorated Dutch streets also seek to lay claim to that honor.

“The neighbors liked it, we liked it and now every two years we're up in the scaffolding and cherry pickers to decorate the street,” Van Dijk said.

The decorations draw visitors to the street but also allow neighbors to get to know one another.

“You meet other people, have a chat. The children like it, the people like it. It really brings people together,” he added.

And once the tournament ends for the Dutch team — Van Dijk is hoping this year it will be with captain Virgil van Dijk, no relation, lifting the trophy — the team of decorators gets back to work in the Marktweg.

“We wait for two or three days to recover from the hangover," he said. "Then with 10 men we take down everything. You come back and it's all gone.”