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Mazda Motor Corp expects to recall more than half a million vehicles worldwide due to power-steering flaws, a company spokesman said, its largest recall ever as Japanese carmakers come under rising scrutiny for quality problems.

The automaker has filed applications with local authorities to recall 215,000 vehicles in the United States and more than 10,000 in China, and now plans to broaden the net to include major export markets such as Europe and Australia, the spokesman said, confirming a domestic media report.

The recalls, estimated at 514,000 vehicles, target the Axela and the Premacy, known in some markets as the Mazda3 and the Mazda5, manufactured in Japan from 2007 to 2008.

The vehicles could experience a sudden loss of power steering, increasing the risk of a crash.

The spokesman said there had been three accidents reported in the United States in connection with the defect but no deaths or injuries.

The company said rust could break lose from a high-pressure pipe, straining the power steering pump and causing the system to shut down.

Last year it remedied the problem for models in Japan after issuing an advisory.

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