Tokyo | A woman has been killed after a truck carrying airbag parts made by Japan’s troubled Takata exploded in a massive fireball on a US highway, the firm confirmed today.
Four others were injured when the vehicle, which was on its way to a company factory, erupted “like a big bomb”, local police said.
The damage was so extensive that the dead woman had to be identified through dental records, they said.
“It created a big crater,” said Tom Schmerber, the sheriff of Maverick County, Texas, where the August 22 accident occurred.
“It burned and killed a woman in a house 30 feet (nine metres) away. Her body was completely disintegrated, but they did manage to find two teeth so they could identify her.” However, Tokyo-based Takata — hammered by a defect in its airbag inflators linked to at least 15 deaths and scores of injuries globally — denied the accident was related to the problem part.
“We don’t think the accident has anything to do with the defect,” a company spokeswoman said, adding that it appeared the supply truck was in a road accident that caused a fire and then the deadly explosion.
In a statement, the company said: “Takata has strict safety procedures relating to the transportation of its products that meet or exceed all regulatory requirements.
“Our thoughts are with the family of the woman who died as a result of this accident.”
Some 100 million Takata airbags have been recalled and the firm is facing lawsuits, investigations and huge compensation costs over the problem, which can send metal and plastic shrapnel from the inflator canister hurtling toward drivers and passengers when an airbag is deployed.
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said the risk was greatest in hot and humid regions of the US, such as Florida, Texas and the Gulf Coast.
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