‘Hot’ phone burns mobile user’s hand

Beware of low quality phones flooding market says TRC, look out for TRC approved number

Ranga Duminda, from Gampaha, was ready to go to work at the Postal Department last Monday. His wife gave him his bag along with the mobile phone which had been left to be charged overnight. He answered a few phone calls and waving to his three- year-old daughter left to work.
Later at office he was engrossed in his work and his phone was in his trouser pocket, where he always kept it.
Suddenly, he noticed smoke emerging from the pocket.

Ranga Dumnida shows his injuries

“I did not know what was happening. Since I’m a non smoker there was no reason for smoke to come out of my pockets,” he said adding that he instinctively put his hand inside to remove the phone. “The phone was burning and I burnt my hand which turned black. My colleagues took me to the Colombo General Hospital and admitted me to the burns unit,” he said.

The doctors had told him that this was the first time such an incident had been reported in Sri Lanka and they wanted him to get admitted so that they could run some tests to check whether any harmful chemical reaction had occurred.  Only the battery of the phone had got burnt and no harm had occurred to the phone or the SIM.

“I bought this phone for a high price thinking that it will be of good quality but it was not. My concern is what if it happened when my three year-old-daughter was playing with it or answering one of my calls. This is risky. Since it was in my pocket I was able to escape with only a few burn injuries but if I was making a call then my ear would have got affected,” he said.

When The Sunday Times spoke to Telecommunications Regularity Commission (TRC) Director Anusha Palpita, he said, “The TRC only approves mobile phones of international standards. There are different types of phones brought in from different countries. The TRC checks the quality of the phone before approving it,” he said. He added however that there were instances of low quality phones being imported to Sri Lanka from different countries.

“Since this is the case the TRC has introduced a system where the customer can detect if the mobile he is purchasing is approved by the commission. There is a TRC approved number in the casing of the phone where the customer can identify if the phone is of good quality and approved,” he said.

He added that the user should be cautious when using the mobile phone. “The battery of the phone can get over-heated. One has to make sure that this doesn’t happen,” he said adding that if people are vigilant about low quality mobiles in the market these kinds of incidents can be avoided.

Burnt out battery, but phone remains intact. Pix by Indika Handuwala

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