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Ninth driver death linked to Takata airbag explosion; Honda extends recall to 127,000 CR-Vs

Ninth driver death linked to Takata airbag explosion; Honda extends recall to 127,000 CR-Vs
A Honda CR-V is seen in this file photo at an Auto Shanghai 2005 exhibition in China. Honda has expanded its recall for faulty airbags to include CR-Vs from 2002 to 2004. (EugeneHoshiko / AP)

A ninth motorist's death has been linked to an exploding Takata airbag, federal auto safety regulators said Wednesday.

The accident occurred in July near Pittsburgh. The teenage driver, who was not identified, was in a 2001 Honda Accord, which has been under recall.

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"We are working hard to understand this crash and the cause of the injuries that resulted in this fatality," American Honda said in a statement. The company said it had not yet had an opportunity to inspect the vehicle.

The Accord was included in a February 2010 recall for the driver's front airbag inflator made by Takata. Honda said it made several attempts to contact the previous owner from 2010 through 2012, but recall repairs were never made. The company said it mailed an additional recall notice to the current owner on July 21, the day before the fatal crash.

In a separate statement, Honda also announced an expansion of its previous airbag recall to include 127,000 CR-Vs from model years 2003 and 2004. The vehicles, sold in the U.S., may have faulty front passenger airbag inflators. Honda said its dealerships will replace the faulty parts for free.

The defective safety devices, manufactured by the world's largest airbag maker, were built into at least 19 million vehicles in the United States. Japan-based Takata was fined $70 million in November by U.S. regulators who said the company failed to properly notify automakers of the dangers its airbags posed.

The airbags are linked to nine deaths worldwide, with eight occurring in the U.S., and more than 100 serious accidents, federal regulators have said.

The new recall brings to 3.4 million vehicles affected by the front-passenger airbag problem, Honda said.

Other models involved are Honda Accords from 2003 to 2007; Civics from 2001 to 2005; Elements from 2003; Odysseys from 2002 to 2003; Pilots from 2003; and Acura MDXs from 2003. The recall now includes CR-Vs from 2002 to 2004.

Honda said in making the announcement that it already has completed nearly half of the required repairs on the recalls, and has all the parts in stock to replace the rest of the faulty airbags. Owners of the affected vehicles will receive notices in the mail, the company said.

"American Honda continues to urge owners of Honda and Acura vehicles to get their vehicles repaired," the company said.

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