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(Adds official's comment on workplace safety recommendations)
MEXICO CITY, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Mexico's economy ministry said it requested information from the local unit of Japanese auto parts supplier Takata Corp to determine which car models have used Takata products at the center of a global recall.
The ministry said Takata had until Friday to respond, and the country's consumer protection agency could issue alerts based on the information Takata provides.
Takata acknowledged earlier on Wednesday that it still does not understand what's causing air bag explosions in a global safety crisis that has seen more than 16 million cars recalled worldwide since 2008, and has been linked to five fatalities.
Deputy Economy Minister Rogelio Garza said the government is in the initial stages of investigating air bag inflators made at Takata's factory in Monclova in northern Mexico.
"We don't know what happened with the air bags," Garza said. "What we have done here in Mexico is first to talk to Takata, and what they tell us is what I'm telling you: We have not identified what it is that's causing it, whether it is the cartridge that is exploding or another mechanism."
"So, we are really just compiling information, investigating but at a local level until we know what happened," he added.
Garza said labor authorities had inspected the Monclova plant in August and issued 171 recommendations related to minor workplace safety concerns, but that none were related to the air bag recall.
The Mexican government said it also requested information from auto assembly plants regarding which models used Takata products.
Reporting by Dave Graham and Alexandra Alper; Writing by Michael O'Boyle; Editing by Simon Gardner, Ken Wills and Ian Geoghegan