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Honda Reports 20th Death from Exploding Takata Air Bag

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Dec. 21, 2017—A faulty Takata air bag inflator has killed another person, this time in Baton Rouge, La., The Detroit News reported.

The death comes about one month after a report on the Takata recalls shows that automakers have replaced only 43 percent of the faulty parts, even though recalls have been under way for more than 15 years.

The report, issued by an independent monitor who is keeping tabs on the recalls, also shows that auto companies are only about halfway toward a Dec. 31 goal of 100 percent replacement of older and more dangerous inflators.

The unidentified person is the 20th death worldwide attributed to the faulty inflators, which can explode with too much force and hurl shrapnel into car and truck cabins.

The person died in a July 10 crash of a 2004 Honda Civic. Officials from the automaker and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration inspected the car Tuesday and confirmed that the driver’s air bag inflator blew apart and caused the death, Honda spokesman Marcos Frommer said.

Honda learned about the death only recently, and jointly inspected the car with government officials on Tuesday, he said. Honda did not release the person’s name or age.

Takata uses the chemical ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion that inflates air bags in a crash. But the chemical can deteriorate when exposed to high temperatures and humidity and burn too fast, blowing apart a metal canister.

The problem has touched off the largest series of automotive recalls in U.S. history—involving 42 million vehicles and as many as 69 million inflators—and forced Takata of Japan into bankruptcy protection. More than 100 million inflators have been recalled worldwide.

Honda says in a statement that the car’s air bag apparently was salvaged from another vehicle, a 2002 Civic. The owners of the 2004 Civic also had been sent multiple recall notices to replace the original inflator starting in June 2014, but the repair had not been made, Honda said.

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