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Sleeping Passenger Awakens to Exploding Headphones During Flight

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has issued a safety warning to travelers after a woman’s headphones exploded on her face during a flight, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Wednesday. The explosion of the battery-operated headphones occurred during a Feb. 19 flight from Beijing to Melbourne while the woman was asleep with music playing.

Roughly two hours into the flight, the passenger said she heard a loud explosion. “As I went to turn around I felt burning on my face,” she said. “I just grabbed my face which caused the headphones to go around my neck.” As the passenger continued to feel burning on her body, she grabbed the headphones and tossed them to the floor of the aircraft. “They were sparking and had small amounts of fire,” she said.

Flight attendants then approached the passenger with a bucket of water and submerge the headphones. Both the battery and the cover had melted, sticking to the floor of the plane. According to the passenger, other people aboard the flight were “coughing and choking” for the rest of the trip due to the stench of melted plastic and burned hair.

In a news release Wednesday, the ATSB said they had assessed that “the batteries likely caught fire.” The ATSB also reminded travelers with battery-powered devices to always store backup batteries in approved stowage areas when not using them. “All batteries contain stored energy and are therefore potentially risky,” an ATSB spokesperson told the Sydney Morning Herald Wednesday.

 

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