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Apple recalls overheating batteries

The Mac maker says it will replace about 28,000 batteries in one model of PowerBook G4 and tells people to stop using the notebook.

Apple Computer is recalling about 28,000 batteries that shipped this year in its PowerBook G4 portable computers.

The Mac maker said in a statement issued with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on Thursday that the batteries could overheat. It pledged to replace the batteries, which were installed in 15-inch models of the PowerBook G4 bought between January and August of this year. The batteries were also sold separately.

Apple said it had received four reports of the batteries overheating. It determined that the source of the problem, which it said could pose a fire hazard, was a short circuit inside the batteries, manufactured by LG Chem of South Korea. Although the PC maker has not received any report of injuries, it advised owners of PowerBook G4s with the recalled batteries to discontinue using their machines.

The batteries in question carry the model number A1045 and serial numbers that begin with HQ404, HQ405, HQ406, HQ407 or HQ408. Those numbers are printed on a label on the bottom of the battery, Apple said.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based computer maker advised customers with the batteries to contact it for a free replacement. It can be reached via phone at (800) 275-2273 or via its Apple.com Web site. It has also created a special battery exchange page on its customer support Web site.

Given the tens of millions of notebooks that ship every year, recalls related to batteries or charging systems are fairly rare. Manufacturers do find problems on occasion, however. In 2001, for example, Dell recalled about 284,000 Inspiron notebook batteries and Apple recalled 570,000 PowerBook G3 power adapters.

No other PowerBook or iBook batteries are involved in the battery recall, Apple said.