Rush hour

Melting iPod snarls Tokyo rush hour

August 16, 2010: 7:22 AM ET

Japanese commuter train halted by the smell of an overheated iPod nano

Image: Apple Inc.

The iPod nano may be one of the world's most popular music players, but it's been a headache for Apple (AAPL) in the Japanese market.

The devices have been known to overheat, burst and, in some cases, burn their owners.

Only last Thursday did Japan's trade ministry pronounce itself satisfied with Apple's efforts to comply with a government order to alert customers of the risk, publish visible safety advice, and improve its disclosure of incidents of overheating.

The next day, it had a doozy of an incident.

According to Reuters, a crowded commuter train came to a halt for eight minutes during Friday's morning rush hour while officials investigated passenger complaints of a burning smell.

"When a member of staff went to investigate inside the train, a passenger came over showing him that the iPod she was listening to had burst apart," a spokesman for Tokyu Corp. told the news agency.

There have been at least 60 similar incidents in Japan, according to the trade ministry, including four cases involving minor burns. Apple attributes the problem to a batch of faulty batteries from a single supplier that it declines to name.

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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