By Erin Chan

Mobile phones and related accessories caught fire on the tarmac of the airport just before they were about to be loaded onto a plane yesterday.

They included a batch of Chinese-manufactured Vivo Y20 smartphones, which were due to be shipped to Bangkok by Hong Kong Airlines’ subsidiary Hong Kong Air Cargo.

Reports from the scene said some of the items caught fire at 5.08am, when the mobile phones and accessories, which were in three cargo boxes, were on the tarmac awaiting loading.

Footage circulating online showed the fire starting in a box, causing its contents to fall out.

The blaze soon spread to the other boxes.

Shortly afterwards, a rescue team with breathing apparatus from fire services arrived and put out the blaze at 5.56am, after a 40-minute effort.

Photos posted online showed the “Vivo” logo on the blue and white boxes. Badly burnt mobile phones were seen wet and scattered on the tarmac.

In response to inquiries, Hong Kong Air Cargo said flight number RH331 had been scheduled to take off at 6.25am.

The company said it would comply with the investigation into the cause of the incident, adding that maintaining the company’s operations and the safety of cargo shipments is its priority.

The Airport Authority said nobody was injured during the incident, adding that the operations of the airport had not been affected by the fire.

Sources said a site measuring 24 meters in length and 12 meters in width on the airport’s tarmac was affected by the fire.

Vivo, a Chinese technology company headquartered in Dongguan, Guangdong, that develops smartphones, smartphone accessories, software and online services, is a part of Chinese electronics conglomerate BBK Electronics as of 2008.

In 2011, BBK Electronics launched a smartphone brand named “BBK Vivo.”

In 2012, the brand was renamed Vivo and became an independent company.

Airlines have required handheld devices such as power banks or those containing lithium batteries to be carried in a carry-on baggage on board.