Paris-bound Air France jet makes emergency landing in Kenya after false bomb threat
An Air France passenger jet flying from Mauritius to Paris has made an emergency landing in Kenya after a suspicious object was found on board. Air France CEO has said that the device that forced the diversion was a “false alarm.”
Frederic Gagey said that it didn’t represent a danger to the flight or the passengers.
He added that Air France is in touch with the French prosecutor’s office to open an investigation into the incident.
"All the information available to us at the moment indicates that the object was not capable of creating an explosion or damaging a plane, but was rather a mixture of cardboard, sheets of paper and a timer," Gagey said, Reuters reports.
"It was a false alarm."
The Kenyan Airports Authority earlier referred to the object as a “bomb,” saying that security services had thwarted “a bombing attempt.” It later edited the Facebook post to describe the device merely as a "a suspicious object."
“The explosive was carried away to a safe place outside the airport. Bomb experts from the Kenya Navy took the bomb away to safety,” the authority said initially.
At least six passengers are currently being interrogated by the authorities over the suspected bomb, a police official told AP on condition of anonymity. Earlier, the Kenyan airport authority reported two people had been taken in for questioning.
"There was a very big noise in the plane. Then, at some point, the plane shook a lot," Audrey, one of the passengers, told Europe 1 radio. "They [plane crew] told us… that our lives were in danger.”
During the flight, one of the passengers found something that looked like "a stopwatch mounted on a box,” the official told AP.
The Boeing 777 Air France flight 463 was carrying 459 passengers and 14 crew on board, police spokesman Charles Owino said.
The plane was flying to Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport when it was forced to land in the Moi International Airport in the Kenyan city of Mombasa.
According to Owino, all the passengers and crew members have been safely evacuated. He added that the suspicious device was found in the bathroom.
L'agent qui a laissé passé ca à l'aéroport de l'Île Maurice doit être un cousin de Jawad pic.twitter.com/rEVGQwz8Nj— Michael Horowitz (@michaelh992) December 20, 2015
“The pilots requested an emergency landing when a device suspected to be an explosive was discovered in the lavatory,” Owino said.