Pollution from 2.6 million Volkswagen cars sold in Germany between 2008 and 2015, rigged to appear eco-friendly, will cause 1200 premature deaths in Europe, a study of the fraud's health impacts said Friday.

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"The researchers estimate that 1,200 people in Europe will die early, each losing as much as a decade of their life, as a result of excess emissions generated," said the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which took part in the study.

This corresponded to about 1.9 billion euros ($2 billion) in health costs costs and lost labour productivity.

Germany will account for about 500 lives lost, only 40 per cent of the projected European toll, according to findings published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Poland is in second place with 160 deaths, followed by France with 84, the Czech Republic with 72, Italy 55, Austria 47, Switzerland 40, Hungary 32, Britain 30 and Romania 27.

The embroiled company is again under fire over further emissions scandals. Source: Getty Images
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The same researchers had previously estimated that excess emissions from 482,000 Volkswagens sold in the United States in the same period would cause 60 premature American deaths.

Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to having installed software in 11 million diesel engines worldwide to circumvent emissions tests.

This was to make the cars seem compliant with pollution limits while in fact they were emitting health-harming pollutants.

In Germany, 2.6 million rigged Volkswagens were sold under the brands VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat, said the researchers - a fifth of the country's total diesel fleet.

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AFP

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