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Wed, Jun 20, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Sony battery problems not over as laptop catches fire


Toshiba Corp said yesterday a Sony battery pack that had yet to be replaced under a recall last year burst into flames last month in Great Britain, suggesting that not all laptop owners had replaced the defective batteries.

It was the third Toshiba laptop blaze suspected of being linked to the problem.

Sony Corp announced a massive recall of its laptop batteries last year after it was found that they could overheat and catch fire. More than 10 million notebook batteries have been recalled, including those from other major computer makers, Dell Inc, Lenovo Inc (聯想), Apple Inc and Acer Inc.

Given the recent fires, Japanese electronics maker Toshiba said it will step up efforts to reach all customers who may own a laptop with the recalled lithium-ion battery pack.

Previous fires in Toshiba laptops suspected of being caused by the Sony battery were reported in Brazil in December and in Japan in April, Toshiba said.

In the third fire, the laptop caught fire in the owner's office May 24, and the fire burned parts of a desk, although no injury was reported, said Toshiba spokeswoman Yuko Sugahara. The specific cause of the fire was not determined, but it was confirmed the problem originated in the Sony battery, Toshiba said.

Tokyo-based Toshiba is in talks with Sony about reimbursement for expenses for the laptop recall but would not disclose details, Sugahara said.

Sony says the problems were caused by microscopic metal particles that accidentally got inside the battery, causing short-circuiting.

Up to now, Toshiba has placed a list of the products with the battery on its Web and sent e-mail to those who may own the products, but it will try to contact other possible users through its mailing list for repairs and maintenance.

"We are doing our utmost and going over our past information about repairs and maintenance to cover every possibility," Sugahara said.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has logged dozens of reports of the problem lithium-ion batteries overheating.

The massive recall was a major embarrassment for Sony at a time when it has been reviving profits and boosting its image.

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