Faulty charger, not iPhone, could have killed Chinese stewardess

Summary:Chinese national television footage suggests woman killed while using a charging iPhone could have been the victim of faulty chargers distributed without quality checks or through illegal channels.

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. 

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.

In the TV footage, CCTV showed the use of a charger which looked like a genuine Apple charger, combined with a Hong Kong-style plug and aconverter.

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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. 

If either was faulty, they could have become the lethal combination that resulted in the premature death of the 23-year-old stewardess.

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Screenshot of adapter sold on Taobao.com.

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, considering their exceptionally low prices.

For products on the higher price range, such as a charger that sells for 55 yuan on Taobao.com, even if the charger was a genuine Apple-issued one, the purchase is still technically illegal since such items were probably smuggled into China in the first place. In most instances, these would likely have been dismantled, reassembled, and redistributed through channels like online stores.

According to a Beijing News's report in 2012, Shenzhen customs arrested over 100 people for smuggling 500 million yuan (USD 81.5 million) worth of Apple products and selling them on Taobao. 

Topics: Smartphones, Apple, China, iPhone

About

Liu Jiayi is a Hong Kong-based writer and editor.He produces video stories for Al Jazeera English and Severn News Australia, and also worked as the video editor for the Hong Kong-San Francisco Ocean Film Festival 2012. He is studying under a Master of Journalism Programme at the University of Hong Kong.

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