‘Bomb threat’ on Air France jetliner ruled a ‘hoax’

‘Bomb threat’ on Air France jetliner ruled a ‘hoax’
Credit: AP

Good one!(??) A suspicious device found in one of the bathrooms of an Air France flight from Mauritius to Pairs has been ruled a hoax, according to an Associated Press report quoting the CEO of the airline.

The Boeing 777 was on route to Charles de Gaulle when its pilots signaled the need to make an emergency landing early Sunday at Mombasa, Kenya.

The device was made of cardboard, paper and a household timer, said Frederic Gagey, the head of Air France. “This object did not contain explosives,” said Gagey at a news conference in Paris.

Gagey congratulated the crew for their cool-headed reaction to divert the plane. A safety check was carried out in the bathroom before the flight, he said. He denied any security failure in the flight, saying that passengers are checked and sometimes double-checked on flights.

The suspicious object was discovered by a passenger, who alerted the cabin crew who in turn relayed the message to the captain. The plane, carrying 459 passengers and 14 crew members, made an emergency landing at Moi International Airport in Mombasa. One of those being interrogated is the man who reported the package.

A passenger who spoke to journalists after leaving the plane in Mombasa described the emergency landing.

“The plane just went down slowly, slowly, slowly, so we just realized probably something was wrong,” said Benoit Lucchini of Paris.

“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 Lucchini. “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.”

Earlier reports confirmed that the device was indeed a bomb, though these now appear to have been “false positives.”

One statement posted online was by the Kenya Airports Authority, which read in part:

Kenyan bomb experts discover a bomb inside Air France at Moi International Airport, Mombasa. 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 Kenyan security is zeroing in on two passengers who appear suspicious.

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles is a freelance writer.


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