• Kyodo

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Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. said Wednesday a 12-year-old boy died this year of carbon monoxide poisoning while using one of its kerosene heaters.

Matsushita said there have been three cases of carbon monoxide poisoning this year involving seven people, including the boy who died, in Fukushima and Nagano prefectures — all linked to defective heaters it made. The gas may have been generated by imperfect combustion caused by hose deterioration.

Matsushita said it will inspect about 150,000 of the forced-flue pipe kerosene fan heaters, made in 25 types between 1985 and 1992, and offer free repairs.

“We feel keen responsibility for causing the serious accidents,” Matsushita executive Yoshitaka Hayashi told a news conference. “We have a lot to regret as two more accidents occurred when we were investigating the first case.”

According to Matsushita, the boy died and his father was injured after using a kerosene heater in Minamiaizu, Fukushima Prefecture, on Jan. 5. Police are investigating, it said.

In addition, two people who used the suspect heaters were hospitalized Feb. 23 in Chino, Nagano Prefecture, while three other victims received checkups April 13 in the prefectural capital, including two who were hospitalized, it said.

Matsushita said it suspects that cracks in air hoses used to facilitate combustion was one factor in the carbon monoxide poisoning. Imperfect combustion occurred because the defective hoses failed to provide enough air and exhaust gases leaked from the cracks, the company said.

But the accidents, it said, likely stemmed from a combination of causes, including damage to pipes.

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