BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Explosive emails released in the General Motors recall case. The emails suggest that GM leaders knew about the deadly ignition switch defect involving millions of cars months before they notified the federal government.

Meghan McCorkell has more on these latest findings.

The ignition switch issue has now been linked to 30 deaths. These new emails indicate GM was aware of the defect long before it told the public.

General Motors issued a massive recall for faulty ignition switches which can cause cars to suddenly turn off, disabling airbags on February 13. But newly released emails reveal two months before the recall, on December 18, a GM contract worker ordered half a million replacement ignition switches from parts company Delphi to support an “urgent field action.”

The next day, another email again calls the situation urgent, saying “need to start seeing shipments ASAP.”

Bob Hillard, an attorney representing GM victims in a lawsuit, discovered the emails.

“This is absolutely the most explosive piece of evidence I’ve seen and I’ve been inside these GM cases since day one,” he said.

“I’m obviously upset. I’m not surprised but I’m very upset,” said Laura Christian.

Christian lost her daughter, 16-year-old Amber Marie Rose, when the teen lost control of her Chevy Cobalt in 2004. Her death was linked to the defect.

“We can’t get our loved ones back. The fact that GM is still trying to cover it up…there’s no words for that,” Christian said.

GM has recalled 2.6 million vehicles for the faulty ignition switches since February. A federal criminal investigation has been launched into the GM scandal.

Christian says people should do jail time. If not…

“It means that people got away with murder. It means that GM’s cover up worked,” Christian said.

GM has released a statement saying, in part, “These emails are further confirmation that our system needed reform and we have done so.”

Federal law requires automakers to report defects within five days of discovering them.

CBS News has learned of the 2.6 million cars with the faulty ignition switch, only 55% have been fixed so far.

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