TOKYO, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Canada's transport ministry said it had found a potential seat-related defect in one of Toyota Motor Corp's popular models after a fatal crash that led to a global recall of nearly 3 million vehicles by the world's top-selling automaker.
In a statement on Thursday, Transport Canada said it had discovered that in a severe front-impact crash, rear seatbelts could sever after coming in contact with steel parts from seat frames, failing to restrain passengers.
The ministry said it made the discovery after reconstructing a crash involving a 2011 RAV4 in Canada in which the front occupants survived, but the rear passengers did not.
Toyota said it was aware of the finding, along with a separate report from the U.S. market in which a rear seat passenger sustained injuries due to a severed seatbelt following a crash, while adding that it had not been able to confirm a connection with injuries or fatalities.
The automaker earlier announced that it was recalling 2.87 million vehicles, including 1.3 million RAV4s in North America, along with around 625,000 vehicles in Europe, 434,000 vehicles in China, and 307,000 in other regions.
Toyota also recalled 177,000 vehicles in Japan, including RAV4s and its Vanguard SUV model for the domestic market. It said it would add resin covers to the metal seat cushion frames of recalled vehicles.
The RAV4 is one of Toyota's top-selling models in North America, and was the No. 8 best-selling vehicle in the United States in 2015, according to Autodata. (Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Miral Fahmy)