False alarm causes Air France flight to make emergency landing in Kenya

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KENYA - The suspicious device found in an airplane restroom that prompted an Air France flight to make an emergency landing in Kenya early Sunday was not a bomb, says the airline.

Air France Flight 463, a Boeing 777 bound from Mauritius to Paris, was diverted to the coastal Kenyan city of Mombasa after the device was found.

All 473 people on board were safely evacuated by slides and authorities were interviewing several passengers about the device, the airline said in a statement.

Air France CEO Frederic Gagey told a press conference Sunday afternoon that the item that triggered the scare was a cardboard box containing papers, with "something like a kitchen timer" inside it.

The device could not cause an explosion, he said.

He said an inquiry must be carried out to determine who left the item in the restroom. He leaving the item there was "stupid" and that it had caused damage that was "completely unacceptable."

There had been no security failure on the Mauritian side, as the item contained no explosive and was not something that would be picked up in screening. Nevertheless, the airline said in a statement that it was reinforcing security measures in Mauritius.

Gagey said the stranded passengers would travel on to France in the next few hours.

The airline said in a statement that it paid tribute to the efficiency and professionalism of its crew.

The flight, which was destined for Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, had requested permission to land at Moi International Airport in Mombasa after a passenger discovered the device in the restroom, Kenyan police chief Joseph Boinnet said.

"The plane landed there safely at 12:37 a.m. local time," Boinnet said in a statement. "All passengers were evacuated without incident."

Kenyan investigators were working in liaison with France and Mauritius, Kenya's Interior Ministry tweeted.

The Kenyan Interior Ministry tweeted that the passengers and 14 crew members had all been safely relocated to hotels.

It tweeted pictures of the passengers eating lunch at a hotel and being briefed by Kenyan officials in a meeting room.

The airport was temporarily shut down following the incident, but has since reopened, according to the Kenya Airports Authority.

The island nation of Mauritius sits in the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean and is a popular tourist destination known for its pristine beaches.

Mombasa, which is along the Indian Ocean, is the second-largest city in Kenya.

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