Mobile phone battery explodes in the night

A New Zealand man was woken in the middle of the night when his mobile phone battery exploded and burst into flames.

A New Zealand man was woken in the middle of the night when his mobile phone battery exploded and burst into flames, the second exploding battery incident reported this week.

Norman Sievewright said he was asleep in bed about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday when he woke to a loud bang and found his cell phone battery in flames on the carpet. The phone had been charging while he was asleep.

"It was very scary ... especially the fumes and stuff. The back has been blown off the phone," he told New Zealand's TVONE television news channel.

The phone was made by Nokia, which asked Sievewright to turn over the battery and charger so it can investigate. Until it has done so, "it would be inappropriate to speculate," a Nokia spokeswoman said via email.

In August Nokia issued an advisoryabout faulty batteries in some of its phones. It said 46 million Nokia-branded BL-5C batteries were vulnerable to a short circuit that could cause them to overheat while recharging, and offered to replace them for customers who are concerned.

Nokia did not issue a recall and said incidents had occurred with only a tiny fraction of phones -- 100 out of the 46 million. The batteries were manufactured by Japan's Matsushita Battery Industrial Co. and sold in a wide range of Nokia devices.

Nokia said it didn't know yet what type of battery was inside the phone in New Zealand, and attempts to contact Sievewright Thursday were unsuccessful.

Also Wednesday, police in South Korea said a worker may have died because his cell phone battery exploded in his pocket, the Associated Press reported. The man was found dead at his workplace in a quarry with a melted cell phone battery in his shirt pocket, according to the report.

The doctor who examined the man said the pressure caused by the explosion may have "damaged his heart and lungs" and led to his death, according to the AP, which quoted a local news agency. That phone was made by LG Electronics, reports said.

With close to 300 million cell phones sold in the world last quarter, such battery explosions are considered extremely rare.

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James Niccolai

IDG News Service

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