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Ethiopia plane crash victim will not bury soil from scene

Thursday March 21 2019

Ethiopian Airways plane crash

Mr Paul Njoroge, who lost his wife and children in the Ethiopian Airways plane crash, holds a prayer meeting in Bahati, Nakuru County, on March 20, 2019. PHOTO | JOHN NJOROGE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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A man who lost his wife, three children and mother-in-law in the Ethiopian Airways plane crash on Wednesday ruled out burying the soil scooped from the scene of the accident, as it was against his faith.

Mr Paul Njoroge said he would only hold a prayer mass for his family while awaiting DNA results.

He said he had chosen to accept his loss so that he can release friends and relatives to continue with their lives.

“The six months the government has requested so that it can receive results of the DNA analysis on the 5,000 pieces of human bodies collected from the scene is too long, and so we will just hold a prayer mass and wait for DNA results,” Mr Njoroge said, adding that he would have bouquets of flowers but there would be no casket.


Mr Njoroge, a Seventh Day Adventist, said he would not bury the soil they collected from Bishoftu, 60 kilometres south of Addis Ababa, where authorities had taken them to.


Last week, families of victims drawn from 32 countries spent days at Skylight Hotel in Addis Ababa where they were updated on the state of the remains of the bodies after the Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane crashed two weeks ago.

“This is a big loss for me. It is too painful, but I guess there is nothing much I can do other than accept it and let people continue with their lives,” he said at his father-in-law Quindos Karanja’s home in Kabatini, Nakuru County.

Caroline Nduta Karanja died alongside her mother, Mrs Ann Wangui Karanja, and her three sons in the Ethiopian Airlines flight crash at Bishoftu, formerly known as Debre-Zeit.


Mr Karanja, who also lost his wife Anne Wangui, said during Wednesday's prayers that family and friends would converge at the St Michael Parish Church on March 29 for a requiem mass.

“I have gained a lot of strength over the past few days because the church, relatives, the Nakuru County Government and the entire community have stayed with me throughout and they have encouraged me,” he said.

Caroline’s siblings Mwangi Karanja, Kevin Quindos and Kelly Wanjiru told of a supportive sister who until her death worked as an accountant.

Wanjiru, Caroline’s last-born sister, earlier told the Nation that there was a lot in store for them through their sister “whose heart was so much attached to her family members".

“We’ve been in school for years and our sister never rested until she saw us graduating. Personally, she saw me through my university studies and still wanted my brothers and I to relocate to Canada and stay closer to her,” she said.


Kevin said he would forever remember his sister for coming into his life at his time of need.

He studied medicine in Venezuela for seven years courtesy of a Kenyan government sponsorship, but Caroline came to his aid when he almost missed his final exams.

“I got a government sponsorship to study in Venezuela and I was assured that I would be getting Sh600,000 every year to cater for my school fees and other needs. But immediately I moved to Venezuela that never happened,” he narrated.

The prayer meeting was attended by area MP Kimani Ngunjiri, former Deputy Governor Joseph Ruto, county officials and administrators who pledged support for the family.

Meanwhile, there was a sombre mood at Kenyatta University as the institution hosted a requiem mass for two of its dons: Dr Isaac Mwangi Mine and Prof Agnes Mary Gathumbi, who also died in the crash.


The two had worked at the university for over a decade and were heavily relied on in advancing the quality of teachers training at the institution.

Dr Mwangi and Prof Gathumbi were eulogised by their family, friends and students as hardworking, meticulous and God-fearing.

Representatives of the two families condoled each other and spoke of having had perfect role models, supportive parents and trustworthy friends in the two.

Their bosses heaped words of praise on them, some fighting back tears as they spoke of the many times the two supported them during tough times.

With no bodies to bury, the mourners kept glancing at their portraits, perhaps wishing that they were their actual bodies, something they could touch as they bade them farewell and find some sense of closure.