Mobile-charger fire sparks MRT panic

Mobile-charger fire sparks MRT panic
MOMENTS BEFORE THE ALARM: Commuters on board an MRT train on the East-West Line looking on as smoke starts to fill the cabin on Sunday afternoon. A mobile phone powerbank had burst into flames in a passenger's bag.

A POWERBANK, used to charge mobile phones on the go, burst into flames on a train and caused panic among commuters on Sunday afternoon.

Passengers who were on the train told Lianhe Wanbao that people ran from the fire, causing others to flee, even though they did not know what the cause was.

At around 2pm on Sunday, on the East-West Line going towards Pasir Ris, smoke poured out of one of the carriages as the train passed Tiong Bahru Station.

The powerbank in one of the passengers' bags caught fire, and emitted smoke, an SMRT spokesman said. Some burn marks were left on the floor of the carriage.

Passengers in the carriage left the train car holding their hands over their noses.

"I didn't know what happened, but I saw everyone running in fear, and I recalled that knifing incident on the Taipei subway, so I also moved away and got off at Outram," said Miss Lim, 33, who tipped Wanbao off to the incident.

Ng Siang Ping, another witness, said passengers pressed the emergency button and told SMRT staff about the smoke.

A number of witnesses recounted what happened on microblogging site Weibo.

"Smoke was coming out of the bag of the person beside me, and the heat burnt a hole in his bag. The carriage was full of smoke and everyone got off at Outram Park," a netizen wrote in Chinese.

Another commented that some dropped their footwear in their haste to get away.

Duan Ran, 23, who works at electronics store Smart Tab, told Wanbao that both the mobile phone and the powerbank heat up when the phone is being charged, so if they are in a sealed environment and the heat cannot escape, the device may combust.

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