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'How can I even live on?'

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Unimaginable loss: Bermuda resident, Paul Njoroge, a Kenyan, is shown supported by a family member as he waits to walk into the crash site of Ethiopian Airlines, Flight 302, lost over Bishoftu, south-east of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. Mr Njoroge lost his wife, three children and his mother-in-law in the crash. He told the Canadian Broadcasting Commission: 'I want to hear my kids talk to me.” Mr Njoroge, who works at Butterfield Bank, was to rejoin his family in Canada this week (Photograph by Jean-François Benoît/CBC)

A grieving husband and dad has visited the site of a plane crash in Ethiopia that claimed the lives of his wife, three children and his mother-in-law.

Paul Njoroge, who works at Butterfield Bank, travelled to the site outside the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa with father-in-law John Karanja, whose wife Ann died in the crash with her daughter and grandchildren.

All 157 people on board died nine days ago when the plane crashed minutes after take-off.

Mr Njoroge lost his wife, Caroline, 34, son Ryan, 7, daughter Kerry, 4, and seven-month-old daughter Rubi, the youngest of the victims.

He told a TV crew in Ethiopia: “When I think of that plane coming down and what she thought about — you know, she must have thought about me and how I'm going to live.

“And the kids — you know, they must have called their mommy, they must have cried out to their daddy, so it breaks my heart. It will never leave me. It will never leave me.”

He was speaking to a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reporter on Friday after relatives of the dead were bused to the crash scene to pray and lay flowers.

Mr Njoroge said: “Everyone's telling me to be strong. I can't be. How can I be strong? How can I even live on? My family is my life.”

He added: “When I'm with people out here, it's easier. When I'm alone my world is so silent.

“I want to hear my kids talk to me. I miss them telling me about school. I want to hear their cries.

“I want to hear their laughter. I want to hear my daughter Kerry singing to me.

“She would sing to me every day. 'hold me close and never let me go'.

The area is still the scene of a major investigation, led by French civil aviation accident investigators and authorities have said it could take months to identify the remains of the passengers.

Mr Njoroge said: “We wanted to go home with them.

“That's the only way we can have closure — I cannot have any other closure.”

The CBC footage showed Mr Njoroge laying five white roses at a shrine set up in countryside near the impact zone while Ethiopians from the surrounding area, including schoolchildren, prayed and sang.

Both Mr Njoroge and Mr Karanja were filmed leaving the scene with small bags of earth from the crash site.

Mr Karanja, whose daughter lived in Bermuda before moving to Canada with the children, said: “This is just soil from the area so in case that even out of the DNA nothing will be gotten, I will carry this one to be a remembrance of the people I loved.”

Mr Njoroge's family, who lived in Toronto, were on their way home to Kenya on an Ethiopian Airlines connecting flight from Addis Ababa when they died.

Mr Njoroge, a banker, had planned to join them later.

The family had planned to apply for permanent residency in Canada and were househunting as Mr Njoroge planned to finish up his job in Bermuda next week.

He had tracked the flight, scheduled to arrive on Sunday, March 10, until late the previous night when he went to bed.

Mr Njoroge discovered the plane had crashed when he checked its status again on Sunday morning. He said: “I booked the flights for them and every time they travel anywhere, I book the flights. I was tracking the flights.”

The crash killed a total of 32 Kenyans and the country was plunged into mourning after the news broke.

Also among the dead were 18 Canadians, eight US citizens and seven Britons.

Danielle Moore, a former summer student at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, 24, from Toronto, was killed in the crash.

Ms Moore, who took part in the Bios summer course on the ecology and evolution of reef fish, in 2015, was on her way to a UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi when she died.

Bermuda joined other countries in banning the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, the second of its type to crash in five months, from its airspace.

The Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority also grounded aircraft in Max 8 and Max 9 series on the island's aircraft registry while the types' safety is investigated.

Three generations: Caroline Njoroge is shown with her mother Ann Karanja and her three children, Ryan, Kerry and Rubi, in this recent photograph. Mrs Njoroge, Mrs Karanja and the children were headed to Kenya to see her in-laws when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 was lost over Bishoftu, south-east of Addis Ababa, on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. The family were to reuinte with husband and father Paul Njoroge this week after he finished at his job at Butterfield Bank and settle in Hamilton, Ontario (Quindos Karanja via Canadian Press)
Solemn moment: Africans living in Bermuda joined Governor John Rankin last week as he signed the condolence book for Kenyan Paul Njoroge, who lost his family on the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash that occurred on Sunday 10 March in Ethiopia. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)