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Air France flight makes emergency landing in Kenya after bomb scare

AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD | An Air France Boeing 777 aircraft takes off at the Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport on August 18, 2014

An Air France flight from Mauritius diverted and safely made an emergency landing at Kenya’s port city of Mombasa after its crew alerted its captain of a suspicious device in one of its toilets, Kenya’s head of police said on Sunday.

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Air France 463, a Boeing 777 aircraft, headed to Paris with 459 passengers and 14 crew, was safely evacuated after the flight landed at Moi International Airport in Kenya at 12:37am on Sunday (2137 GMT Saturday), Police Inspector General Joseph Boinnet said on his Twitter Account.

"It requested an emergency landing when a device suspected to be an explosive was discovered in the lavatory," police spokesman Charles Owino said.

“Bomb experts from the Navy and DCI (Directorate of Criminal Investigations) have retrieved the device and are determining whether the components contained explosives,” Boinnet said.

“The plane just went down slowly, slowly, slowly, so we just realized probably something was wrong,” said a passenger who identified himself as Benoit Luchini of Paris. He spoke to journalists after leaving the plane in Mombasa.

“The personnel of Air France was just great, they were just wonderful. So they keep everybody calm. We did not know what was happening,” said Luchini. “So we secured the seat belt to land in Mombasa because we thought it was a technical problem but actually it was not a technical problem. It was something in the toilet. Something wrong in the toilet, it could be a bomb.”

A Kenyan police officer said later Sunday that six people who were on Air France Flight 463 are being questioned.

The police official, who insisted on anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media, said that during the flight a passenger noticed something in a lavatory that looked like "a stopwatch mounted on a box", the Associated Press reported.

The passenger reported the device to the cabin crew, who informed the pilots, leading to an emergency landing.

The official said one of those being interrogated is the man who reported the package.

Flight 463 is Air France's third plane to be diverted in recent weeks: two other Air France flights from the US to Paris were diverted on Nov. 18 after bomb threats were received but no bombs were found.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AP)
 

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