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Human Interest

Battery-Operated Headphones Explode in Passenger’s Face Mid-Flight

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Australian officials are warning airplane passengers about battery-operated devices after a pair of headphones exploded in a woman’s face while she was sleeping.

Returning to Melbourne, Australia from a trip to Beijing, China, the passenger said she heard a loud explosion about two hours into the flight, according to a news release published Tuesday by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

Australian Transport Safety Bureau

“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.”

“I continued to feel burning so I grabbed them off and threw them on the floor. They were sparking and had small amounts of fire,” she said.

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The passenger, who remained unidentified in the news release and in photographs, said flight attendants were on hand to dump a bucket of water on the burning headphones. The battery and cover were melted and stuck to the floor of the plane.

Australian Transport Safety Bureau

Other passengers on the plane “endured the smell of melted plastic, burnt electronics and burnt hair,” according to the news release.

Australian Transport Safety Bureau

“People were coughing and choking the entire way home,” the passenger said.

The ATSB recommends passengers check batteries in devices that may catch fire. They remind passengers that batteries should be kept in approved stowage unless in use, and to keep spare batteries in carry-on luggage, not checked baggage.