HAWTHORNE, Nev. — Seven Marines from a North Carolina unit were killed when a 60mm mortar exploded unexpectedly at a Nevada military depot that's an important training facility for troops headed overseas, a Marine Corps official said.
The Marines immediately issued an indefinite moratorium on firing of all such mortars worldwide until an investigation clears as safe the type of weapon and ammunition in the tragedy. Several other Marines from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp LeJeune, N.C., were hurt in the accident shortly before midnight Monday at the Hawthorne Army Depot.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was not immediately clear whether the mortar exploded prematurely inside its firing tube or whether more than a single round exploded. The official was not authorized to speak to a reporter about the accident.
The 60mm mortar is a weapon that traditionally requires three to four Marines to operate, but it's common during training for others to observe nearby.
Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno, the area's major trauma hospital, took nine patients, including one who died, three who are in serious condition and five who are in fair condition, according to spokesman Stacy Kendall. All the patients are men under the age of 30, she said. Kendall described their injuries as penetrating trauma, fractures and vascular injuries.
The identities of those killed won't be released until 24 hours after their families are notified.
Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.