Burning laptop at airport probably caused by defective battery

ThinkPad was powered with a Sony battery, Lenovo says

A Lenovo laptop computer bursting into flames at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) last Saturday was most likely the result of a defective Sony battery, according to a Lenovo spokesman. "We can confirm that laptop was a ThinkPad T43 with a Sony battery -- the same Sony battery that was subject to the recent recalls [by Dell Inc. and Apple Computer Inc.]," the spokesman said. The defect in those batteries is caused by a short circuit that occurs when microscopic metal particles break through the lithium ion cell wall and make contact with a battery anode, Sony said.

"Our first priority is public safety, so we're taking this incident very seriously," he said. "We're investigating it thoroughly."

Within 12 hours of the incident, Lenovo had a team at the airport, Gorman said. They took the notebook and flew it to the Lenovo lab in Japan.

"They're looking at it further right now," he said.

An unidentified witness who said he was a passenger on another flight posted an account at the Something Awful Web site.

"We should know more about this in the next couple of days," the spokesman said. "But the investigation will take another 24 to 48 hours, and then we will do whatever is in the best interests of our customers."

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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