1st death from Bitcoin mining – a warning about computer safety to would-be miners

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In the first-reported case of death from Bitcoin, Danai Makmek, 26, was electrocuted while trying to power up his computer system to collect more cryptocurrency in Thailand's central Chonburi province.

In the first-reported case of death from Bitcoin, Danai Makmek, 26, was electrocuted while trying to power up his computer system to collect more cryptocurrency in Thailand’s central Chonburi province.

Like many cryptocurrency miners, he had rigged up several hard drives to create a sprawling crypto mining machine, which he used electric fans to cool. Danai Makmek panicked when his system failed, and he couldn’t turn it back on.

According to reports, he requested help from his brother, Apiwat Makmek, worried he would lose valuable mining time. Apiwat was supposed to go with Danai to hire a technician the following day to fix the system, which was capable of potentially earning hundreds or even thousands of dollars worth of Bitcoin each week.  

Worried about the loss of income, it appears Danai decided not to wait for the technician, and took matters into his own hands and attempted to fix the machine himself.

I warned him but he could not wait. I think he panicked and stayed up for the whole night trying to fix it,” Apiwat is reported to have told investigators.

Like many cryptocurrency miners, Danai had rigged up several hard drives to create a sprawling crypto mining system, cooling it with multiple electric fans. The sprawling computer rig included at least 19 rigged up hard drives, which would have required a lot of power, and even more cooling to keep the system from failing.

‘The computer was modified to give it more power. I do not think it was safe but my brother had built it himself for Bitcoin mining, which he really liked.’

Apiwat Makmek

Apiwat said he found his brother dead in the morning after he arrived with a technician to fix the rig. Danai was lying slumped over the system, apparently mostly naked, and with his body badly electrocuted. Emergency services were called and paramedics tried without success to revive Danai, before informing the police who were called to the scene to investigate. 

Police Colonel Santi Shoosheud stated there were no signs of forced entry into the room and that Danai had no suspicious injuries, leading them to believe he had been electrocuted.

‘We believe he attempted to fix the broken machine on his own and was electrocuted. We are still investigating the case but there was no forced entry nor suspicious injuries found so far.’

Police Col. Shoosheud, Chonburi Police.

First Death from Bitcoin, but not the first accident

While Danai’s death is believed to be a bitcoin mining accident, the large amounts of electricity required to mine has resulted in accidents in the past, although this probably the first death by Bitcoin to date.

Back in February 2020, a Bitcoin mining rig started a fire which caused a fire in a block of flats in St Petersburg, and previously there were other Bitcoin mining accidents including this one which destroyed a series of garages in Vologda, Russia.

Bitcoin is a digital currency invented in 2009 that surged in popularity in 2017. Miners earn coins by verifying digital transactions to ensure they are legal. The unregulated process is voluntary and is carried out by hundreds of thousands of cryptocurrency miners around the world, the majority of whom are in Asia. 

For some, like Danai, Bitcoin mining is a serious source of income but a number of countries are beginning to investigate the process over concerns that the amount of power used to mine Bitcoins could be harmful to the environment.

That said, the lucrative process of Bitcoin mining, and the requirement for high-end computer hardware, stable electricity supplies and excessive cooling requirements for the equipment mean that Bitcoin mining rigs which are not housed in secure datacenters with modern cooling and safety mechanisms could mean death from bitcoin mining accidents continue to increase over time, especially in light of China’s recent decision to ban cryptocurrency mining from the country, which led to a rapid decline in the Hashrate as miners scrambled to move their operations to other countries.

Dylan Leighton

Dylan Leighton

Dylan Leighton is an composer, music producer, sound designer and mix engineer from the United Kingdom. Making music for over 40 years, he creates music for corporate clients, film and video, and his own personal enjoyment. Writing under the artist name Kalliste, he has composed in just about every genre, from hip-hop to funk to classical.

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