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The staff were repairing the battery when it started giving off smoke. Photo: Sam Tsang

Smoke from mobile phone battery sends two Hong Kong Apple store employees to hospital

Emergency personnel deployed to outlet in International Finance Centre, but no evacuation was needed


Two employees at an Apple store in Hong Kong were taken to hospital after inhaling smoke given off by a mobile phone battery on Friday.

Emergency personnel were sent to the outlet in the International Finance Centre mall on Harbour View Road, Central after a police report was made at 12.07pm.

“The two staff members were repairing the phone battery at the time it emitted smoke. The pair complained of feeling unwell after inhaling smoke,” a police spokeswoman said.

Store employees extinguished the source of the smoke before emergency crews arrived. No evacuation was needed.

Apple offers battery replacement discounts in China and Hong Kong after admitting to slowing down older iPhones

The two men were taken conscious to Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam for treatment.

The spokeswoman said initial investigation found nothing suspicious, and local authorities were investigating the cause.

“It was a minor incident. The store quickly resumed normal operations and no customers were affected,” an Apple spokesman said.

He added that the company was still investigating the details of the incident, including whether the mobile phone battery being replaced was part of a worldwide battery replacement programme for its flagship iPhone product.

The battery replacement programme was initiated in December after the technology giant admitted that it was purposefully slowing-down some older iPhones in order to conserve battery life.

The battery replacement was open to owners of iPhone 6 and above. The cost was reduced to HK$228 from HK$635. The programme will continue until the end of this year.

The incident came after news that an overheated iPhone battery injured a repairman in an Apple store in Zurich and prompted the evacuation of around 50 people from the shop due to smoke on January 9. Reuters reported that Zurich police said the incident occurred as the repair worker was removing the battery, which overheated and burned his hand slightly.

Separately, dense smoke billowed from the New World Development construction site on Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui at about 11.48am the same day, when construction materials burst into flames. The blaze was later put out by firefighters. 

No one was injured. Police said there were no suspicious circumstances behind the incident.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Two Apple store staff sent to hospital after inhaling phone battery smoke