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Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Faulty Takata Airbag caused metal part to shoot through victims mouth and lodged in the base of her skull



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In this Monday, Nov. 7, 2016, photo, Rabiah binti Ibrahim, survivor of a defective air bag explosion, holds a metal canister believed to have caused her injury during an interview in Slim River, Malaysia. Five Malaysians have died in accidents linked to faulty Takata air bags that are at the center of one of the world’s largest auto recalls. (AP Photo/Lim Huey Teng)


Lax laws, flawed recall blamed for Malaysian air bag deaths

EILEEN NG

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Nida Fatin Mat Asis was slumped lifeless in her car seat, bleeding profusely from her nose and mouth, after her Honda hit a lamppost and skidded into a ditch. Her husband was slightly injured, and their baby wasn't hurt at all.
Her husband, like Nida a government doctor, had no idea what had happened until the post-mortem came in: A broken metal canister, later identified as part of an air bag inflator, had shot through her mouth and lodged in the base of her skull.
The deaths of Nida and four other Malaysians have been linked to faulty Takata air bags that are subject to one of the world's largest auto recalls. The U.S., with 11 deaths, is the only other country to have reported such fatalities. Why this Southeast Asian country of 30 million would be hit disproportionately hard by the defective air bags is a mystery, but the families of two Malaysian victims and a survivor blame weaknesses in their country's recall system.
They say Honda, the leading foreign brand in Malaysia, has failed to alert car owners about potentially deadly risks from the air bags or do enough to track down second-hand car owners. They also say the company hasn't provided enough replacement parts or alternative options for car owners if repairs cannot be done immediately.
The defective air bags have faulty inflators and propellant devices that may deploy improperly in an accident, shooting out metal fragments that can injure or kill. More than 100 million vehicles involving 17 automakers have been recalled worldwide, including 69 million in the U.S. alone, underscoring the scale of the crisis.
All the deaths in Malaysia involved the Honda City, a subcompact made for Asia and Europe. Experts say heat and humidity can make air bag explosions more likely, but neighboring Thailand, with a similar climate, has reported no deaths.
In his first media interview since his wife died on April 16, 2016, Nida's husband, Abdullah Shamshir Abdul Mokti, told The Associated Press they had not heard about the recall and never received a notice from Honda. They bought their used 2006 Honda City in 2012 in Kuala Lumpur, the capital, taking it with them when they moved to a rural town in Sabah the following year.
Nida, 29, was driving the morning she died because Shamshir was tired from night duty. Immediately after the crash, he thought she had suffered a concussion. Horrified to find no pulse, he shined a light into her eyes. Her pupils were fixed and dilated.
"The inflator must have shot through her mouth like a bullet," said Shamshir, who later returned to Kuala Lumpur.
The post-mortem report, shown to the AP, says examiners found a broken, 2.6-centimeter (1-inch) diameter, 2-centimeter (8/10ths of an inch) long air bag inflator, lodged in the base of Nida's skull. Her teeth were smashed and her nose fractured. Injuries to her brain stem likely caused her immediate death, it said.
"As a Muslim, I accepted her death as fate but I also believe she is a victim of multinational corporate manslaughter," Shamshir said. "I hold Honda and Takata responsible. This isn't an isolated case. We have five deaths in Malaysia, five very preventable deaths."
In an email, Honda said it sent out recall notices for the air bag inflators of Nida's car in July 2015, but to the car's first owner. It said it only had the database of the car's first owner at the time.
Malaysia's first air bag-related fatality was in July 2014, when a heavily pregnant driver and her unborn child were killed in eastern Sarawak state. A minor collision in her 2003 Honda City set off the air bag, which shot a one-inch-wide metal shard into her neck.
In May 2016, Honda reported a fatality involving a 2003 Honda City, in northern Kedah state. On June 26, Norazlin Haron, a 44-year-old single mother and accounts clerk, died in central Selangor state. She left behind two sons, ages 9 and 12.
The fifth death, on Sept. 24, was in southern Johor state.
A fractured inflator apparently punctured Norazlin's chest and lungs, said her eldest sister, Nor'ain Haron. Part of the inflator was found in the car, which was only lightly dented in the collision.

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