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The International Civil Aviation Organization, the UN's aviation agency, has agreed to prohibit shipments of lithium-ion batteries on passenger aircraft because of fire hazard risks.

The ICAO's 36-state governing council declared that the prohibition would be in effect as of April 1, 2016 and would be maintained until a new safer packaging standard is designed to transport the batteries.

"This interim prohibition will continue to be in force as separate work continues through ICAO on a new lithium battery packaging performance standard, currently expected by 2018," ICAO council president Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu said in a statement.

The ban is mandatory for states that are members of the ICAO. Shipping lithium-metal batteries, which are not rechargeable, are already banned on planes.