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Honda reports eighth death in exploding airbag crisis

TOKYO: Japanese automaker Honda on Monday confirmed a new death linked to an exploding air bag crisis — bringing the global total to eight fatalities — that has sparked the recall of millions of vehicles.

The company said a woman in Los Angeles died in September last year after the faulty inflator in a 2001 Honda Civic ruptured, firing metal shrapnel at her.

“The airbag inflator rupture that occurred during this crash resulted in the death of the driver, Ms. Jewel Brangman,” the company said in a statement.

“Honda has communicated information collected to date about this crash to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),” it added.

The announcement marks the latest chapter in a snowballing crisis for Tokyo-based airbag supplier Takata, which last month agreed to double a US recall to a record of nearly 34 million vehicles made by some of the world’s biggest automakers.

The defect — thought to be linked to a chemical propellant that helps inflate the airbags — can cause them to deploy with explosive force, sending metal shrapnel hurtling toward drivers and passengers.

Honda, which has appointed a new president to help it navigate the crisis, is the most heavily affected by the recall, which has also affected Toyota, Ford, General Motors, Nissan, and Germany’s BMW.

A senior Takata executive told US lawmakers this month that the company — one of the world’s biggest airbag makers — was still searching for the main cause of deadly explosions. -AFP

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