Takata Airbag Tied to Another Death in U.S.; Recall Expands

Federal safety investigators said Wednesday that they had identified an eighth victim of exploding Takata airbags, a minor who died after an accident near Pittsburgh.

The victim was in a 2001 Honda Accord whose airbag exploded, said Gordon Trowbridge, spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

That model had been recalled but the car’s airbag had not yet been fixed, said Mr. Trowbridge said. The victim suffered severe injuries and died several days later, he said. Mr. Trowbridge did not have further details about the crash.

The safety agency learned of the crash last week when lawyers retained by the family contacted the agency, Mr. Trowbridge said. Safety investigators, together with Honda and Takata representatives, will examine the vehicle, he said.

Twelve automakers have recalled more than 19 million cars to fix components in the defective airbags, which can explode violently when they deploy, sending shrapnel flying into the car’s cabin.

Eight deaths in the United States and more than 100 injuries have been linked to the defect. A woman was also killed by a rupturing Takata airbag in Malaysia last year, the only known fatality outside the United States.

In a conference call with reporters, Mr. Trowbridge also announced that the safety agency was expanding the recalls to include several hundred thousand new Honda, Mazda and Subaru vehicles.

The recall is to repair a component called an inflater, which contains the propellant that can unexpectedly explode.

The safety agency has fined Takata $70 million for failing to disclose the defect promptly, and warned that the penalty could increase by $130 million if Takata does not live up to the terms of the consent order. That condition would make the fine a record civil punishment for the auto industry.

Mr. Trowbridge said that the agency had appointed John D. Buretta, a former principal deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice’s criminal division, as an independent monitor to oversee Takata’s airbag testing and recall efforts. The appointment was part of the consent order that Takata agreed to when the penalty was announced last month.

The new recalls, meanwhile, are being issued for 2005-8 Subaru Legacy and Outback vehicles, 2005-8 Mazda 6 cars, and 2002-4 Honda CR-Vs, Mr. Trowbridge said. These were being recalled based on results of continuing testing of Takata inflaters, he said.

But the agency has said that unless Takata can prove they are safe, all airbag inflaters that use a compound called ammonium nitrate will eventually be recalled.

“That is almost certainly an additional tens of millions of inflaters,” he said.

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