Toyota Motor announced this week it is recalling 340,000 electric-hybrid Prius passenger cars worldwide because of defects with the hand-brake/parking brake.

According to reports in Japan, the country's leading automaker acknowledged it has received reports of crashes, some of which said to have caused fatalities and injuries, but did not elaborate further on the issue.

The company confirmed the parking brake cable can disengage unexpectedly, allowing the car to roll away and possibly crash unless the gear-shift is left in the park position.

The problem affects new Prius models, now in their fourth generation, produced at the company's Tsutsumifacility in the Toyota cityheadquarters plant between August 2015 and October 2016.

The recall involves 212,000 Prius models sold in Japan, 94,000 in North America, 17,000 in Europe and the remainder in other regions, including Australia.

Last month Toyota announced the recall of Prius models in North America due to problems with their airbag assembly.

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