Overwhelmed with relief, passengers arrived safely in Paris today, some crying as they embraced loved ones. The hoax, the fourth against Air France in recent weeks comes amid heightened concerns about extremist violence in many countries.
France has been on high alert for terrorist activity and in a state of emergency since Islamic extremist attacks Nov. 13 in Paris killed 130 people. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for those attacks and for downing a plane carrying Russian tourists out of Egypt in October.
Yesterday, a fake explosive rigged with cardboard, sheets of paper and a household timer forced the Air France flight to make an emergency landing in Mombasa, Kenya.
All 459 passengers and 14 crew members on the flight, from the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius to Paris, were safely evacuated.
Air France filed a reckless endangerment lawsuit, spokeswoman Ulli Gendrot said Monday. It does not name a particular perpetrator, but leaves it to investigators to determine who might eventually stand trial.
Six passengers were being questioned Sunday, including the person who informed the crew about the device, said a Kenyan police official who is part of the investigation and who insisted on anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the press.
"We thought we were going to die. Because of the speed of the airplane going down, we thought we would crash in the sea," said passenger Marine Gorlier of the French town of Melun after landing at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport.
She described a telephone "that did not stop ringing."
"I really admired the crew, because they thought it was a real bomb and they remained very serene," said Antoine Dupont of the northern city of Lille.
"One of my grandchildren said: 'The slide was super!'"