, KUALA LUMPUR, May 5 – Two people have died in Malaysia after airbag inflators made by Japan’s Takata exploded, carmaker Honda announced, raising the global toll to 13 in a scandal that has led to the biggest auto recall in US history.
Tokyo-based auto parts giant Takata is struggling to deal with a defect that can send metal and plastic shrapnel from the inflator canister hurtling toward drivers and passengers when an airbag is deployed.
The defect has been blamed for grisly injuries that have in some cases proved fatal.
The latest deaths came in April in Sabah state on Malaysia’s Borneo island and in the northern Kedah state in May.
“Honda has confirmed that the Takata single stage driver’s airbag inflators ruptured in two crashes in April and May respectively in Malaysia,” Honda Malaysia said in a statement Wednesday.
“Both crashes resulted in the tragic deaths of the drivers,” it said, adding that the official cause of death in the the incidents, both involving Honda City cars, had yet to be determined.
The auto giant also said that it had issued a recall notice for the Honda City vehicles in 2014 and 2015 requiring the driver’s front airbag inflators to be replaced.
In 2014, a pregnant Malaysian and her unborn baby died when a Takata airbag malfunctioned.
Some 50 million Takata airbags have been recalled globally, including about 29 million in the United States, where regulators on Wednesday said they expected 35 and 40 million more airbags to be added to the list.
Investigators increasingly suspect that the chemical used to inflate Takata airbags can be unstable, especially in hot and humid conditions, and cause the inflator canister to rupture.