Apple investigates iPhone 5 electrocution death claim in China

Apple is investigating claims that an iPhone 5 owner was killed while answering a call, with Chinese police confirming the user, 23 year old Ma Ailun, was indeed electrocuted. The woman was charging the iPhone 5 at the time of the alleged incident, Chinese site Xinhuanet reports, and according to comments by her sister was killed by an electric charge through the handset. Apple has said it is cooperating fully with authorities, though declined to comment on any specifics.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of this tragic incident and offer our condolences to the Ma family" Apple said in a statement, Reuters reports. "We will fully investigate and cooperate with authorities in this matter."

According to local police, Ma was indeed electrocuted, and that is believed to be the cause of death. However, they would not confirm whether or not her iPhone 5 was involved.

Ma's older sister has already pinned the blame on the Cupertino firm, however, suggesting that all smartphone owners should avoid using devices while they're plugged in. "[I] hope that Apple Inc. can give us an explanation" she wrote on messaging service Sina Weibo. "I also hope that all of you will refrain from using your mobile devices while charging."

One possibility is that the charger itself could be at fault, particularly if it was not an official unit. Last December, a UK iPad user received an electric shock from a fake Apple charger, the Birmingham Mail reported, with a local trading standards spokesperson confirming that a similar incident had caused the death of a young boy some months earlier.

Meanwhile, US product testing and verification company UL was forced to issue a warning earlier this year after identifying counterfeit iPhone chargers that had faked its approval label. "These USB power adaptors have not been evaluated by UL to the appropriate Standards for Safety," the company said in a statement at the time, "and it is unknown if these power adaptors comply with any safety requirements."