While strolling down the sidewalk just outside Chiang Mai International Airport, a woman’s backpack suddenly burst into flames, forcing her to hurl it away in a panic.
But it wasn’t an act of terror or a drug mule, but rather the fault of a common object carried by many in this power hungry era – the power bank. Cautionary tales were spreading online today after security footage of the incinerating accessory was published last night by the airport.
“Take a moment to imagine this happened inside an aircraft. This is the answer to why airlines are so strict about not allowing power banks on airplanes,” airport staff wrote in the post.
The clip also shows the power bank, now lying outside the backpack on the ground, bursting into flames a second time and spinning out of control to the alarm of a nearby airport worker who jumps away to avoid the flames.
Though several possessions were damaged, no injuries were sustained by the unidentified tourist, who managed to throw her backpack to the ground just in time.
The graphic PSA raised alarms among many Thais who flocked to tag their friends and loved ones in the video. One man even managed to identify the tourist’s power bank brand.
“The brand is called myCharge,” Facebook user Tassanasin Tammasin wrote in a comment yesterday along with an image of the company’s home page.
Neither the airport’s security department nor a spokesman, reached by phone this morning, would provide additional information regarding the incident, which happened Sunday. The spokeswoman said the airport’s director would make a public statement later Friday afternoon.
Lithium-ion batteries – used in most rechargeable devices – can overheat, catch fire and explode due their limitations and design flaws. In 2013, Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliners were grounded after batteries burst into flames aboard at least four flights. Two years later, Korean phone maker Samsung recalled its entire line of Galaxy Note 7 phones after they kept catching fire. Many firms manufacture power banks, meaning the increasingly popular devices are therefore subject to inconsistent quality standards.
Those power banks that are allowed on planes must be brought into the cabin and cannot be stored in checked-in luggage.