Emergency on Air France flight a 'false alarm,' CEO says

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Air France Bomb Alert Forces Paris-Bound Jet to Land in Kenya

PARIS/MOMBASA, Kenya (Reuters) - A suspicious device found on an Air France flight from Mauritius to Paris that prompted an emergency landing was harmless and caused a "false alarm," the airline's chief executive said on Sunday.

Air France staff decided to land the Boeing 777 at the nearest airport -- in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa -- after a passenger found the object in the toilets late on Saturday and alerted crew, CEO Frederic Gagey said.

EARLIER: Kenya investigating device that caused Air France flight to make emergency landing

The suspicious object was made out of cardboard and paper and contained a timer, Gagey said, adding that it must have been planted during the flight.

"All the information available to us at the moment indicates that the object was not capable of creating an explosion or damaging a plane," Gagey told a news conference in the French capital. "It was a false alarm."

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Emergency on Air France flight a 'false alarm,' CEO says
A picture taken on December 20, 2015 shows an Air France flight from Mauritius to Paris grounded at the Moi International Airport in Mombasa, after a suspected bomb was found on board. An Air France flight from Mauritius to Paris was forced to make an emergency landing in Kenya early today after a suspected bomb was found on board, police said. Navy and police bomb experts were called in to determine if there were any explosives on board the plane, which had 459 passengers and 14 crew members aboard. / AFP / - (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
Passengers board a bus at Moi International Airport in Mombasa as their Air France flight from Mauritius to Paris is grounded after a suspected bomb was found on board on December 20, 2015. An Air France flight from Mauritius to Paris was forced to make an emergency landing in Kenya early today after a suspected bomb was found on board, police said. Navy and police bomb experts were called in to determine if there were any explosives on board the plane, which had 459 passengers and 14 crew members aboard. / AFP / - (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
Passengers of an Air France plane which made an emergency landing at Moi International Airport walk in front of the airport after being evacuated from the plane in Mombasa Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015. The Boeing 777 Air France flight 463 from Mauritius to Paris was forced to land in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa after a device suspected to be a bomb was found in the lavatory, a Kenyan police official said Sunday. (AP Photo/Edwin Kana)
An Air France plane which made an emergency landing is seen behind passengers boarding on a small jetliner at Moi International Airport in Mombasa, Kenya Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015. The Boeing 777 Air France flight 463 from Mauritius to Paris was forced to land in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa after a device suspected to be a bomb was found in the lavatory, a Kenyan police official said Sunday. The passengers shown in this photo are not the Air France plane evacuees. (AP Photo/Edwin Kana)
Some of the passengers onboard Air France plane arrive at a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, from Moi international airport Mombasa, Sunday Dec. 20, 2015, after their Air France flight from Mauritius to Paris was forced to land in the Kenya because a suspicious package was found in the lavatory, a Kenyan police official said Sunday. The Boeing 777 Air France flight 463 was heading to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris when the pilots requested an emergency landing at the Moi International Airport at 12:37 a.m., police spokesman Charles Owino said, "It requested an emergency landing when a device suspected to be an explosive was discovered in the lavatory." (AP Photo)
Some of the passengers who were aboard an Air France plane arrive at a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, from Moi international airport Mombasa, Sunday Dec. 20, 2015, after their Air France flight from Mauritius to Paris was forced to land in the Kenya because a suspicious package was found in the lavatory, a Kenyan police official said Sunday. The Boeing 777 Air France flight 463 was heading to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris when the pilots requested an emergency landing at the Moi International Airport at 12:37 a.m., police spokesman Charles Owino said, "It requested an emergency landing when a device suspected to be an explosive was discovered in the lavatory." (AP Photo)
Some of the passengers who were aboard Air France plane arrive at a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, from Moi international airport Mombasa, Sunday Dec. 20, 2015, after their Air France flight from Mauritius to Paris was forced to land in the Kenya because a suspicious package was found in the lavatory, a Kenyan police official said Sunday. The Boeing 777 Air France flight 463 was heading to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris when the pilots requested an emergency landing at the Moi International Airport at 12:37 a.m., police spokesman Charles Owino said, "It requested an emergency landing when a device suspected to be an explosive was discovered in the lavatory." (AP Photo)
Passengers of an Air France plane which made an emergency landing at Moi International Airport ride on a bus after being evacuated from the plane in Mombasa on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015. The Boeing 777 Air France flight 463 from Mauritius to Paris was forced to land in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa after a device suspected to be a bomb was found in the lavatory, a Kenyan police official said Sunday. (AP Photo/Edwin Kana)
Passengers of an Air France plane which made an emergency landing at Moi International Airport ride on a bus after being evacuated from the plane in Mombasa Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015. The Boeing 777 Air France flight 463 from Mauritius to Paris was forced to land in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa after a device suspected to be a bomb was found in the lavatory, a Kenyan police official said Sunday. (AP Photo/Edwin Kana)
An Air France jet liner which made an emergency landing is seen at Moi International Airport in Mombasa, Kenya Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015. The Boeing 777 Air France flight 463 from Mauritius to Paris was forced to land in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa after a device suspected to be a bomb was found in the lavatory, a Kenyan police official said Sunday. (AP Photo/Edwin Kana)
An Air France plane which arrived at Moi International Airport, Mombasa, Kenya Sunday Dec. 20, 2015 to pick passengers after a bomb scare on their earlier flight from Mauritius. (AP Photo)
A Kenyan Police officer keeps vigil as passengers go through security screening at Moi International Airport Mombasa Kenya, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015 after their earlier flight was involved in a bomb scare and they were evacuated to different hotels in Mombasa. (AP Photo)
A passenger who was injured at Moi International Airport after their Air-France plane made an emergency landing, in Mombasa, Kenya, Sunday Dec. 20, 2015, after they were officially informed of the bomb-scare in the plane they were traveling in. The passengers are due to be evacuated from Mombassa later Sunday. Six passengers are being questioned over the incident, a Kenyan police official said Sunday, also advising that no explosives have been found on the suspicious device.(AP Photo)
Kenya's Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, centre back in check shirt, France Consulate in Mombasa Mohamed Ramazani, third from right, Permanent Secretary Monica Juma, back second left, Kenya Airport acting manager Yatich Kangugo, left, and Mombasa county commissioner Nelson Marwa, second right, in Mombasa, Kenya, Sunday Dec. 20, 2015, talking to passengers who were onboard the AirFrance plane forced to land in Mombasa, Kenya, Sunday Dec. 20, 2015. The passengers are due to be evacuated from Mombassa later Sunday. Six passengers are being questioned over the incident, a Kenyan police official said Sunday, also advising that no explosives have been found on the suspicious device. (AP Photo)
Passengers who were onboard the AirFrance plane forced to land in Mombasa, Kenya, Sunday Dec. 20, 2015, react after they were officially informed of the bomb-scare in the plane they were traveling in. The passengers are due to be evacuated from Mombassa later Sunday. Six passengers are being questioned over the incident, a Kenyan police official said Sunday, also advising that no explosives have been found on the suspicious device.(AP Photo)
Passengers who were onboard the AirFrance plane forced to land in Mombasa, Kenya, Sunday Dec. 20, 2015, after they were officially informed of the bomb-scare in the plane they were traveling in. The passengers are due to be evacuated from Mombassa later Sunday. Six passengers are being questioned over the incident, a Kenyan police official said Sunday, also advising that no explosives have been found on the suspicious device. (AP Photo)
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Air France said it planned to take legal action over the incident, without giving further details.

The 459 passengers and 14 crew on board flight AF463 were evacuated using the emergency slides after the plane landed at 2136 GMT.

The device was retrieved from the aircraft by explosives experts from the Navy and DCI (Directorate of Criminal Investigations), Police Inspector General Joseph Boinnet said earlier on his Twitter account.

Kenyan Interior Minister Joseph Nkaissery told reporters at Mombasa's Moi International Airport on Sunday that an undisclosed number of passengers were being questioned about the suspect device, but did not say if they were under arrest.

"We're in touch with Mauritius to know how security screening of passengers was done. A few passengers are being interrogated," he said.

Air France said in a statement it had "immediately decided to reinforce the security measures in Mauritius" after the incident, which follows three bomb alerts in the United States in the last few weeks.

Airports of Mauritius, the operator of the airport in Plaine Magnien, said Deputy Prime Minister Xavier-Luc Duval would hold a meeting on Monday morning with government agencies involved in security to discuss measures taken following the incident.

"As precautionary measures, Mauritian authorities have tightened security procedures at the airport," Airports of Mauritius added in a statement.

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

Gagey said arrangements were being made to fly the passengers and crew back to Paris, adding that they would return late on Sunday or early Monday.

Watch more coverage below:

Raw: Bomb Scare Forces Air France Plane To Land

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