iPhone Death Prompts Apple To Investigate Charging Issues
July 15, 2013

iPhone Death Prompts Apple To Investigate Charging Issues

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

On July 12, a 23-year-old employee of China Southern Airlines died after answering a phone call on her iPhone while it was being charged. Reports say an electric shock was emitted from the phone and killed the young flight attendant.

Apple announced yesterday it will "fully investigate" the incident, but didn't say much more about its plans. According to news sources, Ma Ailun died as she answered a call on the iPhone 5 she bought last December. She was also reportedly using an official Apple Lightning charger at the time.

The story quickly began to pick up momentum when Ailun's sister posted about it to Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo. Many other posts followed from other users, urging each other to avoid using their iPhones whilst charging. Experts in Hong Kong reportedly warned against using any electrical device of any kind while charging.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of this tragic incident and offer our condolences to the Ma family," said an Apple spokesperson in an emailed statement. "We will fully investigate and cooperate with authorities in this matter." Apple didn't give any further details, including whether this is an isolated incident.

According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), Ailun died in her home in Xinjiang on Thursday, July 11. She and her fiance were planning to be married next month.

Her brother, Yuelun, told Apple Daily his sister had died from electric shock after picking up the iPhone 5 to answer a phone call. The iPhone and charger in question have been handed over to the proper authorities, claims Yuelun.

According to Bloomberg, China's Xinhua News Agency has cited a post from Sina Weibo which claims the family "didn't ask for compensation from Apple, and that it only hopes people will pay attention, nothing more."

Once news about Ailun's death hit the microblogging site, iPhone users and experts began urging people to avoid any device as it's being charged.

"There is a risk using an electrical device while its installed battery is being charged, be it a shaver or a phone," explained Hong Kong University of Science professor Johnny Sin Kin-on.

Previous deaths have been reported as a result of using a cell phone while charging. In 2011, a young Indian man was electrocuted and died after using a Chinese knock-off phone while it was charging. The doctors declared the man dead due to the electrocution he received after trying to place a call on his knock-off device.

As early as this year, two other Indian men were electrocuted as they went to plug in their cell phones to power. One man died from electrocution after his device received three phase power from a single phase line, the other died after plugging his device into a socket in his tractor.

Though iPhones and other electronic devices have been known to have their batteries overheat and explode, deaths are rare and most often linked to third-party equipment or improper charging practices.