Airport workers are seen near the Air France Boeing 777 aircraft that made an emergency landing is pictured at Moi International Airport in Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa, Dec. 20, 2015. 
Photo by Joseph Okanga/Reuters

Air France bomb alert forces Paris-bound jet to land in Kenya

An Air France flight from Mauritius made an emergency landing in Kenya early Sunday and after a “suspected explosive device” was found on board, officials said.

The Boeing 777, with 459 passengers and 14 crew members, diverted to the coastal city of Mombasa after the suspicious item was found in a lavatory, according to airport and airline officials.

Pictures from the scene showed that at least one emergency evacuation slide was inflated after the landing, with passengers taken away on buses.

Flight AF463, bound for Paris, landed at 00:36 a.m. Sunday local time (5:36 p.m. Saturday ET), the airline said.

“The object, believed to be an explosive device, has successfully been retrieved from the aircraft which was destined to Paris,” Kenya Airport said in a statement.

Several other flights scheduled at the airport were diverted or canceled during the emergency, it added.

Kenya’s Interior Ministry said a number of passengers were “still under interrogation” and described the item at the center of the alert as a “gadget.”

It comes after two Air France flights from the U.S. to Paris were diverted Nov. 18 over bomb threats but no devices were found. France has been on its highest terror alert since the Nov. 13 massacre in Paris that killed 130 people.

Air France crew told passengers there was a technical problem, one of those on board the plane said.

“The plane just went down, slowly, slowly, slowly, so we just realized probably something was wrong, but the personnel of Air France, were just great, just wonderful, so they keep everybody calm and really quiet,” Benoit Lucchini, told The Associated Press.

“We didn’t know what was happening actually, and so we secure our seatbelt and [Air France] said we had to land in Mombasa because we had a technical problem. But actually it was not a technical problem … it was like something wrong in the toilet, like a, it could be like a bomb.”

Police Inspector General Joseph Boinnet said on Twitter that the plane was safely evacuated on the ground.

“Bomb experts from the Navy and DCI (Directorate of Criminal Investigations) have retrieved the device and are determining whether the components contained explosives,” Boinnet said.

In a later media statement, Air France said an investigation into AF463 was “ongoing” and that the diversion was a “precaution” owing to a “suspicious item onboard.”

Passengers were being taken care of in Mombasa, it added.

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Air France bomb alert forces Paris-bound jet to land in Kenya