Air France investigators are working to confirm whether a package found on one of its planes, forcing it to make an emergency landing, contained explosives, authorities have said.
Flight AF463, with 459 passengers and 14 crew members on board, had leftMauritius at 9pm local time on Saturday and was due to arrive in Paris Charles de Gaulle at 5.50am local time.
After the suspicious device was discovered, the plane landed at Moi international airport in Mombasa, Kenya, before 1am local time.
An Air France spokeswoman, who declined to be named said local authorities were interviewing passengers and that the airline had sent a substitute plane to pick up the passengers.
The Kenya Airports Authority said what is “believed to be an explosive device has successfully been retrieved” from an Air France flight.
Police spokesman Charles Owino said: “It requested an emergency landing after a device suspected to be a bomb was discovered in the lavatory, an emergency was prepared and it landed safely and all passengers evacuated.”
“Bomb experts from the navy and the CID were called in and took the device which they are dismantling to establish if it had any explosives,” he said.
The plane was still in Mombasa airport early on Sunday morning, he added. Kenyan television station NTV reported that at least one passenger was in custody. Kenyan website Standard Digital News quoted an unnamed official as saying: “It is a real bomb and it could have exploded airborne or on arriving in Paris. More will be disclosed but we have a suspect in custody.”
A passenger who identified himself as Benoit Lucchini, from Paris, told journalists: “The plane just went down slowly, slowly, slowly, so we just realised probably something was wrong. The personnel of Air France were just great, they were just wonderful. So they keep everybody calm. We did not know what was happening. 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.”
Scheduled flights to Mombasa were initially disrupted but normal operations later resumed.