Capetonian prevents ‘mini explosion’ on plane


A Cape Town man prevented a “mini explosion” when he separated two burning lithium batteries on a plane.

Samir Buffkins, a former senior adviser to Eskom and the founder of Psiclone Hybrid Technologies, was on board a five-hour flight from Addis Ababa to Gaborone on Tuesday when passengers came across a hand luggage emitting smoke. The owner of the luggage just waved his hand in the air when asked for answers, the Cape Times reported.

The smoke continued to rise, even when flight attendants used a fire extinguisher.

“The bag was very hot and I put it on a metal tray to prevent a possible fire from spreading. The air hostesses tried using an extinguisher, but nothing would stop the smoke. I then opened the bag and noticed two lithium or spare cellphone batteries, tied together. One had short-circuited, causing the smoke,” Buffkins said.

Buffkins claims the worst that could have happened was for the batteries to cause a mini explosion. The captain of the plane asked Buffkins to write a report about the incident.

Ethiopian Airlines South Africa regional manager Abel Alemu said: “Ethiopian Airlines takes these matters very seriously and a thorough investigation is under way. We will be able to respond once we know the outcome of the investigation.”