Faulty non-Apple charger, not iPhone 4, could have killed Chinese stewardess

“A Chinese television broadcast has demonstrated the possibility faulty chargers could have caused the death of a Chinese air stewardess electrocuted when she answered phonecalls on a charging iPhone spread,” Liu Jiayi reports for ZDNet. “A report by national broadcaster CCTV suggested the charger in the stewardess electrocution case might not be a genuine Apple product, and the phone was not an iPhone 5 but an iPhone 4.”

“Both the plug and converter are available online including China’s biggest online store, Taobao.com, with prices ranging from 3.8 yuan (US$0.62) to 55 yuan (US$9) for the charger, and 0.66 yuan (USD 0.1) to 9.9 yuan (US$1.6) for the converter,” Jiayi reports. “If either was faulty, they could have become the lethal combination that resulted in the premature death of the 23-year-old stewardess.”

Jiayi reports, “According to a report published Tuesday on local news site Xia Men Wang, in most cases, consumers would not be able to trace the manufacturer of goods available on the lower price range since these are likely made in unregistered workshops in the southern provinces of China where there is no quality control.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we stated in our initial coverage of this story on Monday:

Tragic story.

If true, the likelihood that some third-party or other non-standard situation is high. There are tens of millions of iPhone 5 units in the world that have been answered while plugged using Apple’s supplied plugs and cords that, thankfully, did not result in electric shock deaths.

Related articles:
Electrocution: Using illegal third-party iPhone accessories – July 16, 2013
How likely is death by iPhone electrocution? Not very – July 15, 2013
Was this Chinese stewardess killed by her Apple iPhone 5? No – if anything, it was faulty charger – July 15, 2013
Apple to probe electric shock death of Chinese woman who used iPhone 5 while it was charging – July 15, 2013


    1. Was just thinking the same thing.

      In my opinion, picking up an electronic device while in the tub/shower or even after exiting is a major point of this whole story.

      Especially these days when teens think texts must be looked at immediately. God forbid you wait 2 minutes before reading it.

  1. That a woman was electrocuted by an iPhone made the headlines of news agencies everywhere. However, if the results of the investigation exonerates Apple, that bit of news will be buried deeply if it appears at all. The damage has been done.

    1. We have a winner!

      Just wish the rest of the population knew they were being manipulated by the media.

      It’s not that they lie, it’s how they place the articles. Front page or Page 15 section D.

    1. Walgreens, always my source for quality electronic devices to use in my $75,000 set of wheels. With those kind of payments, you’ve got to save money where you can.

  2. It has been almost a week since this tragic incident and we still know too little about it.

    The police claims that Ms Ailun was electrocuted but do not state what they base this on. If she was indeed killed by electricity, this would not necessarily leave any visible damage on her body. If the phone really shows traces of burning as stated, the victim may have done so too, of course.

    Todays report adds more information but this does still not fully explain what happened. The mobile was an iPhone 4, not an iPhone 5, as stated by her family. It is not entirely clear if it is the phone shown in the SCMP article, but this claims that the iPhone shown severe traces of burning on its exterior, yet could still be started normally. The charger and cable were intact. They do note though, that the charger does not appear to be the standard mainland China version.

  3. Speculation without foundation is completely pointless. Instead of trying to find out the truth you’re just looking for rumours and unfounded suggestions that exonerate your preferred consumer electronics maker.

    Ever take a step back and consider how damn pathetic that looks?

    1. Here’s some “foundation” for you: Chinese-made knockoffs are about as good as hammered dog shit. Apple makes stuff to CE specifications and to Underwriters Laboratories and is designed by real engineers who know how to make stuff that’s safe.

      I rather know my way around this “U.L.” stuff, having designed a hydrogen sensor to keep people safe when using a hydrogen-powered fuel cell. They (U.L.) keep you on your toes. What the holy hell do you think you’re going to get in the way of safety from a 62¢ unlicensed knockoff made in China?

      I’ll answer the above rhetorical question for you, Luke. For that kind of money, you can’t afford hire good engineers, you can’t afford the certification required for a CE mark nor U.L. listing, and you can’t get something that has what—in the vernacular of the electrical engineering world—is known as “isolation.”

      And you know what? Without fail-safe isolation, what you can get is not nice, safe 5 volts; you get 220 VAC, which has millisecond-long peaks of 311 volts.

      This venue (and many other Mac sites who smell something fishy to high heavens) aren’t encumbered by some sort of burden of proof equivalent to a criminal trial, where “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” is a common standard world-wide. This is the court of public opinion when it comes to deciding where to vote with one’s pocketbook.

      The only thing “pathetic” here is your presumption that you can waltz on in here and lecture us on “speculation” and ‘circling the wagons around Apple’ when all one needs is to apply some common sense. Besides, I probably forgot more about the design of safe electrical circuits than you will ever know in your lifetime.

      1. Nice diatribe. I’m very impressed by your credentials, and I happen to agree that substandard electronics cause a lot of problems.

        What is unknown is whether or not the charger in this case was genuine or not. To suggest one way or the other is speculation.

        1. Luke, it was already “suggested” in the original articles on this subject that it was a genuine Apple iPhone and power adapter. I don’t recall seeing the word “allegedly” in any of these articles with respect to the cause of death (electrocution) or the source of that electricity. People on this forum have already repeatedly expressed their sorrow for this woman’s untimely demise. Your attempt at moral superiority is lame.

  4. Morally superior? Hardly. I actually couldn’t give a shit if a person I’ve never met has died, and I’m not about to feign sorrow on this website in a vain attempt to lend my opinion credibility. I’d say that places my morality stocks at a pretty low starting level.

    I’m not interested in stroking my e-dick for you idiots. If you think that Apple is immune from manufacturing defects, good for you. That kind of one-eyed devotion will get you far.

    1. It’s clear she died. It appears likely she was somehow shocked. The speculation is that the shock might have been due to a faulty Apple-branded charger. The popular press was reporting the story with rhetorical headlines like “Can you get shocked from an phone charger?” Inquiring minds want to know.


      Many people are doubtful that it could have been a faulty charger adapter. Is that skepticism well founded? Well…

      Take the case of 16-year-old Elez Lushaj and the *stuck throttle* on his 2011 Hyundai Elantra.

      Teenager Elez was clocked by police doing nearly 120 mph so they pursued him. So then Elez called 911 to report that the throttle was stuck on his car (so he kinda sorta had a reason to be going fast).

      The 911 dispatcher told him to stomp the brakes. Elez said that didn’t work; he had a reason to be going really really fast.

      The 911 dispatcher told him to turn the key to “off” but not to “lock”. He said the key wouldn’t turn.

      They told him to shift the gear shift to neutral. Nope; that didn’t work either.

      So he rolled the car. His parents hinted there might be a lawsuit.

      Hyundai issued a press release stating that it was exceedingly unlikely that there would be simultaneous failures of the throttle, brakes, ignition switch, and transmission.

      The moral of the story: It is often the case that people who ” rel=”nofollow”>can barely count to potato do REALLY dumb things, like putting their pet dog in the microwave to dry it (a real lawsuit, which was defended by a law firm in my home town), and then attempt to blame a manufacturer for their misfortunes.

      In still other cases, people with normal intelligence have rotten luck and tangle up with the “owie” side of a plug-in adapter; it can happen rather easily when you’re dripping wet and you’re trying to unplug things.

      And, as in the case of Elez and that rocket-powered Hyundai, people often blame manufacturers with deep pockets when it’s (allegedly) their own damned fault.

      1. Here’s a tip for you:

        If you need to post a long and unrelated anecdote to make your point, you’re not making your point very well.

        Fact is, it’s feasible that a genuine Apple charger had a major malfunction. It’s feasible that it was a fake charger. It’s feasible that she had a brain aneurysm as she was answering the phone.

        1. “Feasible” is a wide-open word. An Apple charger is probably what is known as a “no-two-failures” design. So it’s “possible” to get nuked off the 5-volt side, but very unlikely.

          It’s not only “feasible”, but “a strong possibility” that she died because she screwed up while dripping went handling 220 VAC cording, or non-Apple equipment, or there was a wiring flaw such as a ground fault in the building’s wiring.

          Our views are converging. What made you unpopular is you used the anonymity afforded by the Internet to embolden you to act imperious and insulting to others. If you had tried that in a bar, on a good day, the regulars would just ignore you and go back to their conversation. On a bad day, someone would have just bitch-slapped you and introduced you to the alleyway.

          Try behaving on the Internet as you would in person; it is an opportunity to polish your communication skills in a venue where no real harm can come to you.

          1. Now you’re lecturing me on behaviour? Electro (however he spells it with all the numbers) has covered that already, several times over. One of the beautiful things about the internet is that you can communicate without the encumbrance of social grace. It’s a pleasant change.

            When I read through the posts on this site the thing that stands out to me the most is the one-eyed devotion shown to Apple devoid of conventional logic or reasoning. As to my original point, I stand by it. MDN are clearly so desperate to deflect any possible blame from Apple and I find it pretty sad.

            I know from my personal experience of managing a deployment of about 1000 iPads that Apple chargers have their share of issues. I understand that there is a very good chance that the charger in this case was not genuine but to pin your colours to that possibility without any evidence or knowledge whatsoever is pretty stupid. I find the idea of such devotion to a consumer goods manufacturer to be a bit ridiculous, nay, pathetic even.

            And while we’re giving feedback on how we come across – you seem like a pretentious douchebag. You’re acutely aware of the anonymity afforded by the medium and yet you feel compelled to let us all know about your vast experience. I smell bullshit.

            1. The candor of the Internet? Fine. My experience goes far beyond your imagination. When it comes to professional experience and engineering skills, you are simply too ignorant to know just how ignorant you are. So bite me.

            2. I see you’re now back to the pretentious douchebag angle.

              My only assertion about engineering is that something was not impossible however unlikely you may think it is.

              I understand fail safe design in the true sense of the term and I understand electrical isolation. I also understand mass manufacturing, manufacturing tolerances and statistics, things which you seem to believe can be designed away. My experience with a sample size of 1000 genuine apple chargers tells me that they are far from being uniform in quality or free of faults.

            3. I had an enjoyable time scratching bark on the tree with you, Luke. It’s been real and fun, but not real fun. ” rel=”nofollow”>Until next time. 😉

  5. Ok, no insensitivity meant to the person who sustained pain and suffering from this 3rd party mishap, but can we please shutup already about this. This incessant yapping about this issue is not about caring for the injured party, it’s about dissing Apple – And sometimes Apple deserves it, but not in this case. It’s a diss-Apple fail folks, let’s move on.

  6. Very sad. You can’t not even by sure branded products aren’t fake. There is a Hugh market of counterfeit products and its growing and they manually come from China. Everything from Cell Phone chargers, fuel filters, fertilisers, branded clothes and even food products. Most coming from China, shipped to special ports in the Africa-EU region and on from there to the rest if the world. I saw a program about this on TV a while ago, terrifying. And the copying of good products is so prevalent that allot of the products in shelves in stores are counterfeit without the stores, shippers or costumers knowing try are… It is terrible and there seems to be little that can be done.

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