There may be more to the perils of cryptocurrency mining than a potential brush with the law. In what could be the world’s first death from Bitcoin mining, a 26-year-old crypto miner in Thailand was killed earlier this week in a case of suspected electrocution when trying to fix his mining rig at home in the resort town of Pattaya, the Pattaya News reported.
The victim, named Danai in the report, was found shirtless alongside his Bitcoin mining machine. His brother, Apiwat, said he had warned Danai not to do anything with the broken machine, which had a power leak, and that he had already arranged a technician to repair it the following day.
The technician arrived to find Danai dead beside the rig. Local police believed he was electrocuted when trying to repair the machine himself, according to the report.
The death illustrated the potential physical risks that come with crypto mining. However, a veteran in the crypto mining industry told Forkast.News that the risk of being electrocuted was not confined to mining, “so I’m not sure if the association is meaningful.”
Didar Bekbauov, a co-founder of Xive, a crypto mining company in Kazakhstan, told Forkast.News that home miners often didn’t have expertise in setting up or repairing equipment, and that they would watch YouTube videos and “put themselves in danger trying to do it by themselves.”
He said Xive’s repair specialists were “constantly trained by Asic manufacturers,” adding that they had all the necessary tools, workstations and even microscopes to repair equipment properly and safely.
The accident is not the first, however. In 2014, a 5 megawatt Bitcoin mining facility in Thailand that was estimated to house 2,000 mining machines was destroyed in a massive fire, CoinDesk reported at the time.
In February 2018, the top floors of a residential building in Artem, in eastern Russia, was destroyed in a large fire believed to have been caused by crypto mining.
In October 2019, a fire at a mining farm in China was said to have damaged equipment worth around US$10 million, according to a tweet by Dovey Wan, a founder of crypto firm Primitive Ventures.
For home miners, a key focus appears to be profitability — which could be what led to the death of Danai as his brother said he was in fear of missing out on potential profits.
Alexander Hobbs, director of science at Switzerland-based blockchain research firm Zenotta, told Forkast.News that he had looked into home mining a couple of years ago but concluded that “it wouldn’t be particularly profitable for me just with the space I have and the number of miners I’d have to buy.”
“It’s a very tricky one because obviously not only is the price of the assets fluctuating wildly over time, but also the difficulty of the mining puzzle,” Hobbs said. “One of the big problems you’ve got is that predicting into the future is extremely difficult.”
Lachlan Keller contributed to this report.