The family of a 23-year-old Chinese woman is claiming that her death by electrocution was caused by a charging iPhone 5. A post made by the victim’s older sister on Sina Weibo – China’s largest social network – went viral over the weekend, according to the state-run Xinhua news service. The post stated, “(I) hope that Apple Inc. can give us an explanation. I also hope that all of you will refrain from using your mobile devices while charging.”
The deceased, identified as Ma Ailun, was a resident of Urumqi in China’s northwestern Xinjiang province. According to Xinhua, she was electrocuted after picking up her handset to answer a call. The device was plugged in and charging when it delivered the fatal shock.
“Ma’s sister mentioned on Weibo that the phone was bought last December and still under warranty, and the family has handed the phone over to authorities for investigation,” said The Next Web. Ma had previously worked as a flight attendant for China Southern Airlines and was set to be married next month.
Apple has issued a statement to the victim’s relatives. “We are deeply saddened to learn of this tragic incident and offer our condolences to the Ma family. We will fully investigate and cooperate with authorities in this matter,” said a China-based Apple spokesperson in Beijing.
Ma’s father, Ma Guanghui, claimed that his daughter’s body showed signs of electrocution. Local police backed up his assertion, as reported by China Daily, blaming the young woman’s death on electric shock. They stopped short of verifying that the iconic Apple device was directly to blame.
Do plugged-in smartphones pose an increased electrocution risk? “Experts say the likelihood of someone being electrocuted by a smartphone, even while the device is charging, is very, very low. For one, phones charged from a USB cord have a supply voltage of about 5 volts, not enough to severely harm a person,” said CNN.
The charger is much more likely to be the culprit in Ma’s death. Although reports claim that she was using the handset’s stock charger, China is flooded with authentic-looking Apple knock-offs and a “grey market” that sources electronics from overseas for resale to Chinese consumers.
The China Consumers’ Association in May warned about the dangers of a “flood” of uncertified power chargers on the market … The association warned the chargers could turn a smartphone into a “pocket grenade” and cause explosions, electric shock, or fires in a variety of electronic devices,” wrote Wall Street Journal tech blogger Paul Mozur.