US confirms 11th death due to Takata air bags

takata

DETROIT (AP) — A 50-year-old woman who died after a car wreck last month in California is the 11th U.S. victim of Takata Corp.’s defective air bags.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirmed the woman’s death on Thursday but didn’t release her name. She is the 11th known U.S. victim. Up to five people also may have been killed by the air bags in Malaysia, bringing the number of deaths globally to as many as 16.

The agency said the woman died Sept. 30 in Riverside County, California, near Los Angeles. Honda Motor Co. confirmed the woman’s death and said she was driving a 2001 Civic.

“Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the family of the driver during this difficult time,” the automaker said in a statement.

Takata air bags can inflate with too much force, which causes their metal interior to rupture and spew shrapnel into the vehicle. Tokyo-based Takata, unlike other manufacturers, uses the chemical ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion that inflates air bags in a crash. But the chemical can deteriorate when exposed to prolonged high heat and humidity and can burn faster than designed. That can blow apart a metal canister designed to contain the explosion.

The problem touched off what is now the largest auto recall in U.S. history. More than 69 million inflators have been recalled in the U.S. and more than 100 million worldwide. Takata faces billions in costs.

Honda said the vehicle involved in the California crash had been included in multiple recalls since 2008. The company said it mailed more than 20 recall notices to the car’s registered owner, but its records indicate the vehicle was never repaired.

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