Date
19 November 2017
The burnt-out shells of the Galaxy Note II smartphone are shown next to a handbag in which it caught fire (Inset). The incident happened on an East Rail train to the New Territories. Photos: HKEJ, Apple Daily
The burnt-out shells of the Galaxy Note II smartphone are shown next to a handbag in which it caught fire (Inset). The incident happened on an East Rail train to the New Territories. Photos: HKEJ, Apple Daily

Burning smartphone sparks panic on subway train

A smartphone caught fire inside the handbag of a Hong Kong commuter train passenger, causing panic but no injuries.

A 41-year-old woman, surnamed Wong, told police she had just put her Galaxy Note II handset inside her bag when she noticed something burning, Apple Daily reported Monday.

In panic, she pressed the emergency button in the train compartment when smoke began to escape from the bag.

Police later found the phone’s battery had burst but it was not immediately known what caused the device to burn.

The incident happened on an East Rail train to the New Territories.

The driver was forced into an emergency stop in Fo Tan station where the woman dumped her handbag on the platform.

She was unharmed.

A spokesman for MTR Corp., Hong Kong’s railway monopoly, said the incident lasted two minutes and train service was not disrupted.

The train continued the journey afterwards.

There could have been serious consequences had the phone exploded, Cheng Lee-ming, an associate professor of electronic engineering in the City University of Hong Kong, said.

He said smartphone batteries are made of lithium which could explode on contact with liquids.

Smashing a smartphone or subjecting it to severe stress could result in a chemical reaction inside the battery that could cause fire or explosion, he said.

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TL/AC

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