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Dangerous reason why passengers must tell cabin crew if they lose their phone

But starting a fire, even unintentionally, has got to be the clincher.

It is far easier than you think to get a blaze going on a plane though – all a passenger has to do is lose their phone down the side of a seat.

On a recent Qantas flight to Melbourne a man did just that, dropping his mobile and then trying to fish it out.

While he was trying to retrieve it the handset started smouldering, with the situation getting so bad that the pilot considered diverting the aircraft to Sydney and crew having to use fire extinguishers to put the blaze out.

Passengers are now being warned to contact a flight attendant every time they lose a phone down the side of a plane seat, as crushing the powerful lithium batteries can easily spark a fire or explosion.

The incident follows a previous warning Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority, who had released a statement that read: “Smart phones can fall into aircraft seat mechanisms and be crushed when the seat is moved.

"This can result in damage to the phone's lithium battery which can cause overheating and fire.

“With nine incidents during 2016, lost and damaged smartphones topped our 'least wanted' dangerous goods list for the first time.

“Passengers must remember never to move their seat if a phone goes missing while in-flight and to always ask the aircraft cabin crew for assistance.

“If a phone is damaged cabin crew should be alerted immediately.”

The incident is just one of a number of phone fires that have happened on planes in recent years.

This July, Ryanair passengers were filmed escaping on emergency chute after mobile phone battery burst into flames minutes before take-off.

Holidaymakers could be seen falling over each other in a bid to get away from the aircraft as quickly as they could after the inflatable slide was activated.

Then in February, a passenger’s hand luggage was filmed in flames on China Southern flight as a flight attendant was forced to fight the fire.

Earlier this year, airline pilot Patrick Smith told Sun Online Travel that phones in checked-in luggage pose an even bigger problem to flight safety.

He said: "I would be concerned with fires in the lower hold.

"If one was to occur then crew people on board won’t have an understanding of what is happening or how fast it’s spreading.

“Holds are equipped with fire suppressant systems but these systems aren’t always effective against those types of fires.

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