TOKYO (AFP) - Honda said on Thursday that an explosion involving a defective airbag killed a woman in Malaysia, bringing to five the number of deaths believed to be linked to a flaw in parts made by embattled Japanese firm Takata.
The previous four cases happened in the United States, but Honda said one woman died in a July crash after an abnormal rupture of a Takata-made airbag. “An airbag on one of our vehicles exploded abnormally and a Malaysian woman was killed,” said a Tokyo-based Honda spokesman.
The revelation came as the car giant announced an additional recall of 170,699 vehicles worldwide due to the risk that an explosion could send metal shards from the airbag inflator hurtling at drivers.
Takata is facing the biggest test in its 80-year history with lawsuits, a possible criminal probe, and accusations of “deception and obfuscation” over the defect.
Millions of vehicles produced by some of the world’s biggest automakers, including Honda, Toyota and General Motors, are being recalled over the problem.
Honda has been named in a US lawsuit as a defendant, which alleges it conspired with Takata to hide the flaw for years.
The New York Times has quoted former Takata employees as saying secret tests were conducted a decade ago to investigate the defect, but executives ordered the destruction of data that exposed design flaws.
At least three out of the five deaths linked to the airbag “were caused by an abnormal explosion of the airbag, including the latest case in Malaysia", but the other two cases had yet to be confirmed, Honda said.
“We don’t know yet if those deaths were caused by the airbag explosion or by other factors involved in the accidents,” a company spokeswoman said.