Bomb scare on Air France flight in Kenya ‘false alarm’

Passengers questioned after aircraft headed for Paris makes emergency landing

Air France flight 463 from Mauritius to Paris was forced to land in Mombasa after the device was found in the lavatory. Photograph: EPA

Air France flight 463 from Mauritius to Paris was forced to land in Mombasa after the device was found in the lavatory. Photograph: EPA

 

A suspicious device found on an Air France flight from Mauritius to Paris that caused it to make an emergency landing was harmless and the incident was a “false alarm”, airline chief executive Frederic Gagey told a news conference on Sunday.

It was decided to land at the closest airport able to handle a Boeing 777 aircraft after a passenger found the object in the toilets, Mr Gagey said, adding that those on board were then evacuated via the emergency slides.

“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,” Mr Gagey said. “It was a false alarm.”

Six passengers have been questioned about the device.

Air France said it planned to take legal action over the incident, without giving further details.

Kenya’s interior minister Joseph Nkaisserry told reporters at Mombasa’s Moi International Airport that Kenyan authorities had been working with their French and Mauritian counterparts to determine the nature of the device.

During the flight a passenger noticed something in a toilet which looked like “a stopwatch mounted on a box”, a police official said.

“Police Inspector General Joseph Boinnet said on his Twitter account that the Boeing 777 aircraft headed to Paris with 459 passengers and 14 crew, was safely evacuated after it landed at the airport at 12.37am on Sunday (9.37pm GMT on Saturday).

Air France said in a statement that as a precaution, all passengers were evacuated from the aircraft by its emergency slides.

“They are (being) taken care of by Mombasa’s airport ground staff and will be accommodated.”

The airline said it was working to re-route is passengers and was sending another plane to Mombasa to fly them to Paris.

“This Mombasa - Paris flight is scheduled to leave in the late afternoon of Sunday, December 20,” it said.

Kenya Civil Aviation Authority said on its Twitter account that flights from Mombasa airport were disrupted due to the emergency landing.

Reuters/PA