Terrified passengers on a Ryanair plane at Barcelona were ordered to evacuate after a mobile phone caught fire.
The passenger’s device was being charged by a battery pack while the aircraft was on the ground preparing to depart aboard a Boeing 737 for the short flight to Ibiza.
Dramatic footage shows that it initially burned a hole in an aircraft seat before being knocked to the floor in flames.
With smoke pouring from the fire, cabin crew organised an emergency evacuation using the inflatable slides. Footage shows some disorder, with passengers being sent down the chutes even though others had not cleared the slides.
A passenger, "anthcarrio", filmed the fire and uploaded it to Instagram, adding: "Looks like it harfer [sic] to get to ibiza then we thought. I've never seen so many people so scared in there [sic] life! Portable charger blew up in the same row as I was sitting."
The airline said: “Passengers on a Barcelona-Ibiza flight on the ground in Barcelona experienced an emergency evacuation caused by a mobile phone catching fire as it was being charged by a battery pack.
“All passengers were safely evacuated back to the terminal and cabin crew dealt with the mobile phone. Ryanair worked to arrange a spare aircraft to re-accommodate these passengers with the minimum delay.”
Ryanair allows passengers to carry two spare lithium ion batteries in carry-on baggage. “These must be individually protected to prevent short circuits,” says the airline.
“Battery terminals must be either recessed or packaged so as to prevent contact with metal objects including terminals of other batteries.”
Aviation safety experts have long warned about the risks associated with portable electronic devices - and allowing battery chargers on flights.
In February, a Frontier Airlines flight from Orlando to Phoenix was diverted to Tampa when a similar blaze took hold. During the climb, a passenger’s battery that was connected to a smartphone ignited, burning the owner who knocked it to the floor.
In December, a passenger’s iPhone on a United Airlines flight from Barcelona to New York caught fire after it was inadvertently crushed when the seat was reclined.
Passengers are now warned not to operate reclines and alert cabin crew if they lose an electronic device in the seat mechanism.
According to the latest Federal Aviation Administration figures, "air/airport incidents involving lithium batteries carried as cargo or baggage" happen, on average, once every 50 days.
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