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TOKYO, Oct 21:

Shares in air bag maker Takata plunged nearly 23% in Tokyo today, after US authorities urged owners of vehicles with defective airbags made by the firm to seek repairs.

Takata dropped the maximum allowed under stock exchange rules, following the latest in a string of bad news for the Japanese firm which has been under fire for serious defects in its products.

Yesterday, the US Transportation Department’s safety agency issued a bulletin to owners of 4.7 million vehicles made by Toyota and five other firms, highlighting an apparently higher level of danger from the faulty bags for car owners in areas with high humidity.

“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urges owners of certain Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, and General Motors vehicles to act immediately on recall notices to replace defective Takata airbags.”

It said the warning especially covered car owners in Florida, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands and Hawaii.

The airbag could improperly inflate and rupture, potentially firing shrapnel at the car’s occupants.

Honda has the highest number of vehicles covered by the recall at roughly 2.8 million. Toyota is second at 778,000, followed by BMW at 574,000.

The recall is the latest embarrassment for Takata. In June, Japanese automakers recalled nearly three million vehicles worldwide over a defect in one of its airbag that could have posed a fire risk.

The company said then that its US subsidiary had manufactured the product and it apologised for the problem, vowing to prevent a recurrence.

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