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Passengers, crew safe after 'hoax' bomb grounds Air France flight

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Joseph Okanga/Reuters

(Read caption) The Air France Boeing 777 aircraft that made an emergency landing is pictured at Moi International Airport in Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa, December 20, 2015. The Air France flight from Mauritius diverted and made an emergency landing at Kenya's port city of Mombasa after a suspicious device was found in a toilet, Kenya's head of police and the airline said on Sunday.

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Every passenger and crew member is safe after a suspected hoax bomb prompted an emergency landing of a Paris-bound Air France flight in the port city of Mombasa, Kenya.  

Frédéric Gagey, the CEO of Air France, said the device was made of cardboard, paper, and a household timer, and that "this object did not contain explosives," from a news conference in Paris. Mr. Gagey commended the crew for their "cool-headed" response to divert the plane, the Associated Press reports.

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The Boeing 777 Air France flight 463 was on its way to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris when the pilots requested an emergency landing at Mombasa's Moi International Airport at 12:37 a.m., police spokesman Charles Owino said.

The plane was carrying 459 passengers and 14 crew members on board and had left Mauritius at 9 p.m., according to Mr. Owino. 

A passenger, Benoit Lucchini of Paris, spoke to reporters after disembarking the plane in Mombasa. He said the aircraft "went down slowly, slowly, slowly, so we just realized probably something was wrong," CBS News reports.

Mr. Lucchini echoed the head of Air France's sentiments about the collective cool of the flight crew. 

"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."

Gagey told reporters that a safety check was carried out in the lavatory prior to takeoff. He said passengers are checked, and sometimes re-checked on flights, and denied a breach in security in the flight Sunday, according to the AP.

All onboard have been screened and since shuttled to nearby hotels, and the Mombasa airport has resumed flights. 

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In France, a state of emergency has been in effect since the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for that as well as the crash of a Russian passenger jet in the Sinai desert that killed all 224 people aboard on Oct. 31. The Kremlin has said the plane was brought down by a bomb; Egypt officials say they are still investigating.