A flight attendant electrocuted while using her iPhone as it was charging may have been using a third-party adapter, CCTV reports.
The CCTV broadcast stated that the woman was using a “non-Apple iPhone charger”, a claim echoed by the SCMP. Looking at photos of the iPhone in question (which is all reporters at CCTV seem to have done), it looks to me like a standard Hong Kong charger with an adapter on the end so it can be plugged into Chinese sockets.
Xiang Ligang, a “telecommunications expert” interviewed by CCTV, suggested that using a Hong Kong charger might have caused the accident as power outlets in Hong Kong “use an electrical voltage of 110 volts”. An interesting claim since outlets in Hong Kong actually use 220 volts, exactly the same as on the mainland. Xiang’s claims that the charger could have been from Taiwan or Japan are also fatuous as the one shown in the photos is clearly a Hong Kong three pin plug (Japan and Taiwan both use US/China-style two pin plugs).
The Atlantic Wire points to a slightly more plausible cause of the accident, the woman had just got out of the bath:
The family said she had left the bath to answer the phone. Generally, your body has enough resistance such that an iPhone charger, which has a current of 1 amp and also a voltage of 5 volts, will not electrocute a person. But, as Mythbusters showed, a bath lowers a person’s resistance and can indeed zap a person. The lethal amount of electricity is 7 milliamps for three seconds, which, depending on the electronic and the consistency of the bath—salts increase the water’s conductivity a ton—can kill a person. Ma Ailun, however, had gotten out of the bath. She would have had to be soaking-wet to get electrocuted. Also, more modern ground-fault circuit interrupter outlets should protect from this sort of thing.
This story, which comes in the wake of a concerted campaign against Apple by Chinese state media, seems highly questionable. It has yet to be satisfactorily explained how Ma Ailun was electrocuted by handling her phone (as opposed to say, touching the power socket with wet hands).