The headline of an article in Vice magazine claims that "A 16-Year-Old Has Died After Being Electrocuted by His Headphones"
Last week, a teenager was electrocuted to death while listening to headphones from a plugged-in cell phone. Sixteen-year-old Mohd Aidi Azzhar Zahrin was discovered by his mother at their home in the town of Rembau, Malaysia, lying motionless on the floor and cold to the touch, the New Straits Times reports. Blood was pouring from his ear.
Medical checks showed no signs of bruising or external injuries to Mohd’s body, other than some burns on his left ear, and an autopsy later confirmed that the cause of death was electrocution. It’s understood that he was listening to the headphones while charging his phone.
The closest I can get to first hand reporting is from the New Straits Times Here the claim is a little less black and white:
...the boy was believed to be wearing the headphone while the handphone was charging.
"The medical officer later confirmed that the boy had died hours earlier." he said.
Anuar Bakri added that a post mortem conducted at Tuanku Ja'afar Hospital revealed that the cause of death to be related to electrocution.
The original article in Vice cites a couple of other cases, one of which is from Australia. In that case also, the article states that the victim was electrocuted while wearing headphones, but doesn't explicitly state she was electrocuted through her headphones.
I have no trouble accepting that a faulty charger could catch on fire, explode or deliver a lethal shock - at the charger itself. A bad battery can certainly catch fire or explode. But can a deadly shock be delivered through the headphone cable, up to the ear buds and through the brain, as the Vice article's headline declares?