Two Malaysian Honda drivers killed by exploding airbags

The deaths of two Malaysian Honda City drivers have been linked to flawed Takata airbags. On Wednesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration more than doubled the number of vehicles affected by the record-breaking airbag safety recall.

The number of fatalities linked to flawed Takata-made airbag inflators continues to climb. Honda, on Wednesday, confirmed two more deaths have occurred, one last month and one this month in Malaysia. The newly announced deaths bring to 13 the number of global fatalities linked to defective Takata devices. Many of the 100 injured by airbags have reportedly received grisly injuries as the metal canisters that contained the airbags shattered due the blast that deploys the airbag. The shattered remains of the inflator then scythe through the passenger compartment causing mayhem.

Honda, in a statement, said it “has confirmed that the Takata single-stage driver’s airbag inflators ruptured in two crashes in April and May, respectively, in Malaysia.” The crashes resulted “in the tragic deaths of the drivers,” Honda said. The latest deaths occurred in Malaysia’s Sabah state on Borneo in April, as well as in the northern Kedah state this month.

According to the automaker, the official cause of the deaths has not been determined. Both crashes, though, involved Honda City models. The Japanese automaker ordered the recall of City cars in 2014 and 2015 for potential airbag problems. The recall required the replacement of the front airbags.

Malaysia has been hit hard by Takata airbag deaths. Besides the fatal accidents in April and this month, a pregnant Malaysian woman and her unborn child died in 2014 when another Takata airbag malfunctioned.

The record-breaking U.S. car safety recall affected about 29 million Takata-made airbags until Wednesday. On Wednesday, things changed dramatically as the number of airbags affected by this scandal more than doubled. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ordered the recall of 35 to 40 million more airbags. Worldwide more than 50 million airbags have been affected by the recall.

Investigators only recently centered on the cause of the airbag crisis. They believe the chemical used to inflate the airbags, ammonium nitrate, becomes unstable when moisture infiltrates the inflator housing. As the propellant deteriorates, its explosive effect becomes more powerful so that on deployment it can burst the inflator housing.This effect is especially apparent in hot and humid locales.

Agence France-Presse provided information for this report.

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