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Pregnant Malaysia woman died due to faulty air bag

Eileen Ng
Associated Press

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — A Malaysian woman who died in a car accident due to a defective air bag manufactured by Takata Corp. was pregnant and perished with her unborn baby, Japanese automaker Honda said Friday.

Jordhatt Johan, head of public relations with Honda Malaysia, said the driver-side air bag in the woman’s 2003 Honda City deployed abnormally and its inflator broke when the vehicle crashed into another car in the July 27 incident. Honda was notified about the accident a month later, he said.

“The woman died, unfortunately, and her foetus died, too,” Jordhatt said. “The cause of death was due to the rupture of the inflator.”

Global recalls related to air bags manufactured by Japan’s Takata number more than 12 million vehicles and the Malaysian death is the fifth worldwide. The other four deaths were in the United States.

Honda has already recalled millions of vehicles and this week expanded its recalls after getting new information about the fatality in July. Jordhatt said Honda only recently learned that the inflator was defective in driver-side air bags because Takata failed to control the humidity during production.

Faulty inflators can explode, hurling shrapnel toward drivers and passengers.

Jordhatt said that globally, Honda is recalling 170,699 vehicles due to the faulty driver-side air bags.

Honda is still using Takata air bags and has no plans to switch as the company is satisfied that the problem was confined to the models being recalled, he said.

“We assure our customers that all our current models are not affected,” he said.

He declined to give further details of the incident or comment on the issue of compensation.

The recalls worldwide involve 10 automakers including Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors Co. and various nations such as Japan, China and European countries. About 8 million of the recalls are in the United States.

None of the vehicles included in the latest recall by Honda were sold in the U.S., the company said.

Takata CEO Shigehisa Takada apologized for the problems with the air bags in a statement issued Thursday, saying his company was determined to prevent further problems. The company is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.