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Death toll from Takata Air Bag explosion rises to 24




  (Credit: Los Angeles Times)

(Credit: Los Angeles Times)

An Arizona man killed by an exploding Takata inflator inflicts death tolls at least 24.

Armando V. Ortega, 55, from Yuma, who died on June 11, 2018, three days after his 2002 Honda Civic was involved in an accident near Phoenix, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Honda said in a statement that the Civic driver was hit by a shrapnel and injured. He later died in a hospital.

The death, which was not reported to a federal agency by this month, is the 16th in the US caused by airbags that can explode with too much force and hurl shrapnel into drivers and passengers. Seven people were killed in Malaysia and one in Australia.

More than 200 people were also injured by the inflators, which resulted in the largest series of automobile recalls in US history being recalled with up to 70 million inflators late next year. About 100 million inflators are to be recalled worldwide.

"This is a critical reminder of the seriousness of the Takata airbag recall and serves as an important call to action," NHTSA said in a statement on Friday. The Agency invited owners to search for open callbacks by entering their 17-digit vehicle identification number on the NHTSA website (www.nhtsa.gov/recalls). (19659008) Takakata used ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate the pockets. However, it can deteriorate due to high temperatures and humidity and explode too much and spit out metal shavings. The deaths and recalls forced Takata into bankruptcy with assets acquired by a Chinese investment firm.

The owner of the Civic, identified by the Arizona officials as Ortega, acquired the Civic less than three months before his death. However, there is no federal requirement for used car dealers to have the cars repaired or to inform buyers of unrepaired recall problems. Honda said it did not know that the car had been sold until recently.

The Civic has been recalled since December 2014 due to a driver's faulty front airbag inflator. Honda announced that it has sent 12 callback notices to the previous owners for three years. The company also claimed to have made more than 20 phone calls to reach the owners, but Honda's records show that the repairs were never made.

Honda said the death was reported to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on March 11 this year. The security agency informed Honda on March 14 and she inspected the car on Friday with Honda and found that the gas generator was torn apart in the crash. "The break was confirmed at this inspection, and we announced the results the same day," said Honda spokesman Chris Martin.

Honda said he had sufficient supplies of spare gas generators, and he urged people to fix recalled vehicles immediately. Older vehicles, especially from the model years 2001 to 2003, are the most vulnerable, the company said.

Public Security Bureau spokesman Bart Graves said Ortega Civic collided with another vehicle at an intersection in Maricopa County near the town of Buckeye. He did not know more details of the crash.


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