Truck carrying Takata air bag inflators causes blast in U.S., one killed

TOKYO A truck transporting Takata Corp (7312.T) air bag inflators and propellants that are at the center of a global recall exploded in Texas earlier this month, resulting in one death and four injuries, the embattled auto parts supplier said on Monday.

The truck operated by a subcontractor was traveling to a Takata plant in Eagle Pass, Texas, on Aug. 22 when the accident occurred, causing an explosion which incinerated one home, local media reported.

A Takata spokesman in Tokyo was unable to confirm the date and location of the accident, but said the truck was carrying air bag inflators and propellants containing ammonium nitrate, the volatile chemical compound linked to the supplier’s exploding air bags, and that the blast killed one woman.

“Takata immediately deployed personnel to the site and has been working closely with the subcontractor and the appropriate authorities to investigate this incident,” the company said in a statement.

The spokesman said Takata has a warehouse in Eagle Pass which stocks inflators manufactured across the U.S.-Mexico border at its plant in Monclova, which has been confirmed as one of the sources of its defective air bags.

These air bags have been linked to the deaths of at least 14 people and have sparked the global auto industry’s biggest-ever recall. Prolonged exposure of the inflators to hot conditions can cause air bags to explode with excessive force, spraying shrapnel into passenger compartments.

More than 100 million vehicles worldwide have been slated for recall to replace Takata inflators, which in addition to the deaths, are linked to more than 150 injuries – mostly in the United States and involving Honda Motor Co Ltd (7267.T) cars.

Takata is looking for a financial sponsor to help overhaul its business and carry ballooning costs as it faces potentially billions of dollars worth of liabilities over the sometimes deadly defects in its inflators.

(Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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