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Death toll rises from GM ignition-switch crashes

DETROIT -- The number of people killed in accidents linked to faulty ignition switches in General Motors (GM) vehicles has climbed to 23.

Attorney Kenneth Feinberg, who was hired by GM to compensate victims, updated the totals in an Internet posting Monday. At least 16 people have been seriously insured in crashes linked to the defective part.

Feinberg says he has received 153 death claims since August. Of those, 23 have been deemed eligible for compensation payments, up from 21 last week. Sixteen of the 714 injury claimants have also received compensation.

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Claims are being accepted through Dec. 31.

GM has recalled more than 29 million vehicles worldwide, including nearly 26 million in the U.S., this year because of a range of problems.

Camille Biros, deputy administrator of the fund GM created to offer victims financial compensation, told CBS MoneyWatch earlier this month that the number of death claims is likely to rise. In part, that's because the fund is using a broader standard for who qualifies for compensation that what the automaker was taking into account, she said.

GM has acknowledged that it knew about faulty ignition switches in Chevrolet Cobalts and other small cars for more than a decade. The company didn't start recalling 2.6 million small cars until February.

The ignition switches can slip out of the "on" position, which causes the cars to stall and turns off the air bags.

For months, the company said at least 13 people died in crashes linked to the faulty switches, but GM acknowledged that the death toll would go higher. Some lawmakers have estimated that it's close to 100.

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