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On Wednesday September 6, 2000, the first congressional hearing on the Firestone tire recall of 6.5 million tires took place. According to federal safety officials, these faulty tires have led to 88 deaths in America, and Venezuelan officials are also investigating whether the tires led to 46 deaths. Scheduled to appear at the hearing were Bridgestone/Firestone Chief Executive Masatoshi Ono and Ford's Chief Executive officer Jacques Nasser. Ono apologized for the deaths which may be linked to Firestone tires. Nasser, however, refused to allow Ford to take any blame for the fatal accidents. At both the separate House and Senate hearings, Ford and Bridgestone/Firestone were reprimanded for not notifying consumers that there were flaws in the tires, even though complaints about the tires had been made for years, in countries around the world. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has registered over 1,400 complaints about the tires, including more than 250 injuries and the 88 deaths. Chairman of the House Commerce Committee, Rep. Tom Bliley (R. VA) admonished both companies, saying, "Even though the cause of this problem was and remains unknown, that is no excuse for inaction in the face of mounting evidence of real and potential danger to American drivers." Although Ford's Nasser insisted that his company cannot be blamed for tires, the NHTSA, which began its investigations of the tires in May of this year, believes that the fatal accidents were caused by both the faulty tires and the high center of gravity on Sport Utility Vehicles including the Ford Explorers which cause the SUVs to roll over.
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