Passengers on an Air France flight from Mauritius to Paris that had been prompted to make an emergency landing after a suspicious device was found departed Kenya late on Sunday evening.
Air France staff decided to land the Boeing 777 at the nearest airport — in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa — after a passenger found the object in the toilets late on Saturday and alerted crew.
The suspicious object, which was made out of cardboard and paper and contained a timer, was harmless and caused a “false alarm”, the airline’s chief executive Frederic Gagey said earlier at a news conference in the French capital, adding that it must have been planted during the flight.
Object was a ‘fake bomb’
Mombasa County Commissioner Nelson Marwa said the passengers had departed on another plane sent by Air France to pick them, but an undisclosed number of them who were being questioned by authorities had stayed behind, but did not say if they were under arrest.
Air France said it planned to take legal action over the incident, without giving further details.
The 459 passengers and 14 crew on board flight AF463 were evacuated using the emergency slides after the plane landed at 2136 GMT.
The device was retrieved from the aircraft by explosives experts from the Navy and DCI (Directorate of Criminal Investigations), Police Inspector General Joseph Boinnet said earlier on his Twitter account.
AIR FRANCE EMERGENCY LANDING AT MOI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT MOMBASA. pic.twitter.com/wcDXj5eRyo— Joseph Boinnet (@JBoinnet) December 20, 2015
Flight AF 463 from Mauritius to Paris was diverted and evacuated at Mombasa airport after a passenger found a suspicious item in the toilets.
The package was taken away for examination. It turned out it was a fake bomb made of cardboard and a timer, the French airline said.
'Fake bomb' forces Air France flight into emergency landing https://t.co/FMOh8L72rx— euronews (@euronews) December 20, 2015
Airport shut down
Scheduled flights to Mombasa were initially disrupted but normal operations later resumed.
Flight AF463 is the third Air France plane to be diverted in recent weeks.
Two flights from the US to Paris were diverted on 18 November after bomb threats were received but no bombs were found.
France has been in a state of emergency since the 13 November attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead and hundreds wounded.