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IBM, Lenovo Announce Recall of 526,000 Laptop Batteries

Lenovo and IBM Corporation have announced the voluntary recall of some 526,000 lithium-ion batteries used in ThinkPad notebook computers worldwide due to the latest in a series of problems with Sony-made batteries, the Washington-based Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said Thursday.

IBM Corp., based in Armonk, New York, and Lenovo (United States)Inc. of Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, recalled the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in ThinkPad computers because they may cause overheating and spontaneously combust, posing a clear fire hazard to consumers. About 168,500 of the batteries were sold in the US, while the rest were distributed worldwide, according to the CPSC statement.

The CPSC warned that consumers should stop using products concerned immediately and contact Lenovo to receive a replacement battery, free-of-charge. Till now, Lenovo has recorded one confirmed report of a battery overheating and causing a fire, damaging the notebook computer.  Worryingly, the incident happened inside an airport terminal as the computer's owner was boarding an airplane, causing enough smoke and sparks to require the use of a fire extinguisher. There was minor property damage and no injuries were reported.

According to the CPSC, the recalled batteries were sold with, or sold separately to be used with, the following ThinkPad notebook computers between February 2005 and September 2006: T Series (T43, T43p, T60); R Series (R51e, R52, R60, R60e); and X Series (X60, X60s). They were distributed by IBM until Lenovo, the Chinese computer maker, bought IBM's personal computer division in May 2005.

This is the fourth recall in recent months involving Sony batteries believed to be defective. In August, Dell asked customers to return 4.1 million faulty laptop batteries and Apple recalled 1.8 million batteries worldwide, warning they could catch fire. Last week, Toshiba said it was recalling 340,000 laptop batteries due to a problem that caused the laptops to sometimes run out of power.

(Xinhua News Agency September 29, 2006)

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