Ma Ailun (马爱伦), a 23-year-old Chinese woman, died on July 13, 2013 after being hit by a powerful electric shock when she answered her IPhone 4, which was still charging. Apple Inc., has agreed to comply with investigators.
Ma collapsed and died upon answering her charging IPhone 5, according to a tweet on the Sina micro-blog on July 13, allegedly from Ma's sister. It was later confirmed that Ma was using an IPhone 4.
The local police confirmed Ma's death, saying that Ma was electrocuted in her home in the Hui Autonomous Prefecture of Changji, in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, on July 11. However, the police has not confirmed yet whether or not the mobile phone was the cause of Ma's death, Xinhua reported.
Born on July 16, 1990, in Changji, Xinjiang, Ma was a flight attendant for China Southern Airlines. She was planning her wedding, which would have been held on Aug. 18. The beautiful girl's dream was to become a crew chief.
According to Ma's father Ma Guanghui, her daughter had bought the device from an official Apple store, in December 2012, and was using the charger that came along with the device.
The cellphone, its original charger, and any other accessories have been handed over to the police.
However, China Central Television confirmed that the exterior of the device used by the victim was a stainless steel IPhone 4 -- not the aluminium used for the IPhone 5 -- and the charger was an unauthorized IPhone 4 charger.
"I want to warn everyone else not to make phone calls when their mobile phone is charging," her sister tweeted. The sister's tweet was reposted more than 3,000 times. It stirred a heated online discussion about whether or not it was unsafe to use mobile phones while charging them.
Meanwhile, Ma's family demanded an explanation from Apple.
On July 14, Apple announced that it would thoroughly investigate the accident.
"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," a company representative said in a statement.
"Mobile phones have a low output of only 3 to 5 volts, which isn't enough to harm the human body," said a senior physics teacher, at a Nanjing high school of Jiangsu Province, in a media report. "People will feel an electric shock at about 36 volts. However, if the charger or the circuit has a problem, such as a broken wire, it can lead to a shock of 220 volts."
"There is a risk when using an electrical device while its installed battery is being charged, be it a shaver or a phone," said Johnny Sin Kin-on, a professor at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, to The Sun.
"There is a possibility that charging a mobile phone can lead to death," said Xu Xuelu, an expert of the Nanjing Home Appliance Repair Association. "Everyone has a different sensitivity to electric current. Some may feel uncomfortable when 10 volts hit their body, while some may feel hand-dump with 4-5 volts of telephone lines." Xu recommended that people avoid making calls while their mobile phones are charging.