Plane evacuated after Samsung replacement phone emits smoke

Scare in Kentucky is latest headache for tech giant grappling with Galaxy Note7 woes

Returned Samsung Galaxy Note7s in the US. Incidents of Note7s catching fire have damaged the Korean tech giant's reputation.
Returned Samsung Galaxy Note7s in the US. Incidents of Note7s catching fire have damaged the Korean tech giant's reputation. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

CHICAGO • A Southwest Airlines flight leaving Louisville, Kentucky, was evacuated after a passenger's replacement Samsung phone began emitting smoke.

Flight 994 was evacuated on the runway prior to take-off after the Samsung Galaxy Note7 - described as a replacement in Samsung's global recall of the device - apparently caught fire, the airline said. "All customers and crew deplaned calmly and safely via the main cabin door," it said in a written statement.

Mr Brian Green from Indiana state - whom United States media identified as the man whose phone caused the evacuation - told ABC News that his device was a replacement. The tech news website The Verge reported that he had powered down the phone for take-off, an account The New York Times confirmed through other eyewitnesses.

Mr Green's wife Sarah said that he had replaced the original phone about two weeks ago after getting a text message from Samsung.

The heat damage from the apparent explosion was so severe that a fire official could not independently verify the model of the phone, according to ABC News.

The Verge posted a picture taken by Mr Green of the packaging. It showed an identifying label with a black box, which Samsung has described as the indicator of a replacement phone. A company spokesman declined to comment on the image.

"Until we are able to retrieve the device, we cannot confirm that this incident involves the new Note7," ABC News quoted Samsung as saying in a statement.

"We are working with the authorities and Southwest now to recover the device and confirm the cause," the company added. "Once we have examined the device we will have more information to share."

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is in touch with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Samsung and the phone's owner to gather facts, CPSC chairman Elliot Kaye said in a statement, reminding consumers that they could get refunds for the troubled model. The FAA said in a statement that it had confirmed a Samsung phone caused the smoke on the Southwest flight and that it was investigating the incident.

A problem with the replacement for the Note7 would create a new, embarrassing and potentially costly chapter to a global scandal that has hurt Samsung's reputation. It also could add new dangers for consumers.

Samsung announced a global recall of at least 2.5 million of its flagship Note7 smartphones in 10 markets last month.

Samsung customers in China have reported problems with phones that have the same battery as the global replacement model, but Samsung has said that it examined the Chinese phones and found that the batteries were not at fault.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2016, with the headline Plane evacuated after Samsung replacement phone emits smoke. Subscribe