The South China Morning Post is reporting that Apple is investigating reports that a Chinese flight attendant was fatally electrocuted when getting out of the bath to answer a call on her iPhone 5 while it was plugged into the charger.

A spokeswoman for the technology company said: “We are deeply saddened to learn of this tragic incident and offer our condolences to the … family. We will fully investigate and co-operate with authorities in this matter.”

According to mainland media reports, Ma Ailun, a 23-year-old flight attendant with China Southern Airlines, was picking up her iPhone 5 to answer a call while the battery was being charged when she was electrocuted and killed … 

While the SCMP describes the phone as an iPhone 5, there are conflicting reports about the model.

Although a report in Fortune says that “a cheap, third-party charger would seem to be ruled out by the report of Ma Ailun’s family that she was using genuine Apple parts,” we would observe that many extremely convincing counterfeit products originate in China, with numerous reports of electric shocks and fires resulting. It’s entirely possible to buy a counterfeit charger believing it to be genuine, perhaps even from a counterfeit Apple store.


Left: genuine Apple, right: counterfeit (photo from righto.com)

The WSJ cites an earlier warning about the issue of non-certified chargers by the China Consumers’ Association:

The China Consumers’ Association in May warned about the dangers of a “flood” of uncertified power chargers on the market (in Chinese). In the release 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.

It’s not known at this stage whether or not the Chinese authorities will make the charger available to Apple for examination. Apple has not always enjoyed the best of relationships with the Chinese government, with State-owned media making a series of attacks on the company. Apple responded to the warranty claims by clarifying its policies.

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About the Author

Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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