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Foreign objects in orifices a bigger killer than laptops

Notebooks safer than bees - it's official

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If you're worried about the prospect of dying at the hands of a flaming laptop battery while travelling, relax.

It's far more likely you'll be killed by a firework, non-venomous insect, "legal intervention" or a foreign object in a natural orifice.

Computerworld has kindly combed through Federal Aviation AUthority data to declare that between March 1991 and September 2009, there were a grand total of 109 incidences of batteries on planes exploding, enflaming or just plain smoking.

This resulted in 51 injuries - or one lap for every two incidents - and one death. The death - and 13 other injuries - resulted from a single incident, when a Taiwanese plane exploded on landing, after gasoline from a canister in a luggage locker was inflamed by sparks from a nearby motorcycle battery. See, the figures don't just cover notebook batteries.

And, the story adds, most of the injuries were inflicted on baggage staff, not air crew or passengers.

However, one might be forgiven for thinking the proliferation of notebooks could be causing an increase in the number of incidents - there nine in 2008. That year, CW says, 2.2 billion Li batteries took flights.

However, the figures suggest that cordless drills and other power tools were the single biggest culprit, followed by flashlights.

This should be some comfort to regular road warriors - and the unfortunate people who have to sit next to them.

However, the truly cautious would be advised to avoid pretty much everything else. US figures quoted by ComputerWorld show motor vehicle accidents killed 48,412 people in the states in 2006, while 655 deaths were classed as "air and space transport accidents."

Bees, hornets and wasps iced 61 people. Non-venomous insects and other arthropods accounted for seven unfortunate souls, while fireworks took care of another eight.

A terrifying thirty were despatched by a "Foreign body entering through skin or natural orifice".

And 360 were taken care of by "legal intervention involving firearm discharge". ®

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