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Cellphone explosion replay

Helsinki, Oct. 9 (Reuters): Nokia on Thursday pointed the finger at unauthorised, counterfeit batteries after another of its phones exploded and burnt its user, the third such case in two months, and said original batteries sold with its phones were safe.

The world’s largest mobile phone maker said earlier a young Vietnamese woman was hospitalised with burns after her mobile phone apparently exploded.

Chung Xao Le, 22, was having breakfast yesterday in a cafeteria at a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City where she worked as a therapist when her phone in her pocket, a Nokia 8210, exploded.

Le suffered from burns of 10 per cent and remains in hospital.

The incident follows two similar accidents in the Netherlands, one last week and the other in August.

Following the latest Dutch incident, which left a 15-year-old boy in the town of Hengelo with leg burns, the country’s consumer watchdog said it would probe the case.

“We don’t yet have any information on what is the origin of the battery in the Vietnam case,” Nokia Mobile Phones spokesman Kari Tuutti said.

“(But) there hasn’t been a single case of an original battery exploding anywhere in the world,” he said.

Nokia has cited faulty batteries from independent electronics manufacturers for similar incidents in the past.

Nokia has said these manufacturers violated security requirements which should prevent the battery heating up after short circuiting, for instance, after the phone was dropped.

Contraband and counterfeit mobile phone batteries are widely available in Vietnam in local markets at around $2-$3 a piece compared to $20 for genuine product, a local Nokia spokesman said.

“The biggest issue is with counterfeit, illegal batteries,” Tuutti said.

“Therefore we recommend that retailers and consumers try to verify the products sold have original batteries.”

Nokia has sent a team of technicians to investigate the blast, which could have been caused by a fake battery, Huu Nguyen, a communications officer for the Finnish company’s office in Ho Chi Minh City said.

Mobile phones are becoming increasingly popular in Vietnam despite modest incomes and there are around 1.6 million mobile phone users among the population of 80 million.

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