Truck carrying Takata air bag materials explodes in Texas, killing one
(Reuters) – A truck transporting Takata Corp <7312.T> air bag propellant material at the center of a global recall crashed and exploded in Texas last week, killing one woman and injuring four other people, the auto parts supplier said on Monday. Takata said the truck, operated by a subcontractor, was traveling from a Takata plant in Moses Lake, Washington, to a Takata warehouse in Eagle Pass, Texas, early on Aug. 22 when an accident occurred.
The driver of the tractor-trailer “failed to negotiate” a curve on a highway and crashed near a house, according to a preliminary statement from the Texas Department of Public Safety. “The trailer (carrying air bag detonators and blasting agent) exploded and engulfed in flames, causing fire to the home and a passing vehicle.” The DPS said 67-year-old Lucila Robles was killed. Local media reports said she was inside the house near where the explosion took place. The agency said the house caught fire after the accident. The DPS was investigating the incident, the statement said. A Takata spokesman in the United States said the company had reported the incident to U.S. safety regulators and was cooperating with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The spokesman said on Monday the propellant in the truck contained ammonium nitrate, a volatile chemical compound. Takata air bags containing ammonium nitrate have in the past exploded and been linked to the deaths of at least 14 people, triggering the biggest recall in the global auto industry. The truck also carried air bag inflators of a different type that did not contain ammonium nitrate, the spokesman said. The force of the explosion damaged about 10 nearby homes, breaking windows and dislodging doors from their hinges, media reports said, with rubble and truck parts found almost a mile from the site of the blast near Quemado, Texas. Local media reports said the driver of the truck was a 20-year-old man who, along with a passenger, escaped from the truck before it exploded. A two-day search was conducted for Robles, but the search was called off after she was identified by dental records, local media reported. 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. Prolonged exposure of the defective Takata inflators to hot and humid conditions has been found to cause air bags to explode with excessive force, spraying shrapnel into passenger compartments. (Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu in Tokyo and Bernie Woodall in Detroit; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Peter Cooney)