Last updated: 12:00 PM ET, Sun December 20 2015

Fake Bomb Causes Air France Flight Diversion

Impacting Travel | Michael Isenbek | December 20, 2015

Fake Bomb Causes Air France Flight Diversion

Photo via Twitter/airlivenet

An Air France Boeing 777 traveling from Mauritius to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris made an emergency landing in Mombasa, Kenya early Sunday after a “suspicious device” was found in a bathroom, the Associated Press reported.

The device, constructed of cardboard, paper and a household timer, “did not contain explosives,” Air France CEO Frederic Gagey verified in a Paris news conference, per the AP.

A Kenyan police official taking part in the investigation who is not allowed to speak to the press, told the AP anonymously that six passengers are being questioned regarding the hoax bomb. This number includes the individual who initially reported the device to the cabin crew.

Gagey praised the 14 crewmembers for keeping cool in the face of potential danger, the AP said, and added that he didn’t see this as a security lapse, pointing out that the bathrooms are checked before takeoff and passengers are checked and sometimes double-checked as the flight progresses.

Benoit Lucchini of Paris, one of the 459 passengers, spoke with journalists in Mombasa, stating, "The personnel of Air France was just great, they were just wonderful. So they keep everybody calm. We did not know what was happening," he said, according to the AP. "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."

Steven Ciaran, 30 an Irishman working on Reunion Island, was in the rear of the plane watching a movie when he noticed the cabin crew moving around with unusual urgency, he told the AP.

"I was very distressed because I could see we were far from the destination," Ciaran said to the AP. The Irish citizen noticed passengers reassuring each other as the diversion took place.

"I thought the plane had difficulty and not that it had anything to do with terrorism," he told the AP.

Passengers left the plane using emergency slides, and except for a few twisted ankles, no one was seriously injured, Ciaran said, per the AP.

Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean, is popular with French tourists, the AP noted.

France remains in a state of emergency since the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, and Air France has had two flights diverted in one day due to bomb threats since then, the AP said.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks as well as the Oct. 31 crash of a Russian airliner caused by an onboard bomb.


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