UPDATE March 21, 2013 – Media outlets had some problems counting the deaths. It appears that seven Marines were killed.
Eight Marines are dead and several others remain hospitalized after a mortar exploded during a training accident at a rural Nevada Army depot. The incident happened late Monday night at the Hawthorne Army Depot, located southeast of Reno.
A 60-mm mortar round exploded, killing seven Marines instantly. An eighth Marine later died of his injuries. At least five others suffered injuries ranging from minor to critical.
Seven service members were killed and several others were injured last night when an incident occurred during a training exercise at Hawthorne Army Depot, Nev.
The injured were transported to area hospitals for treatment and further evaluation. The identities of those killed will be released 24 hours after next of kin are notified.
“We send our prayers and condolences to the families of Marines involved in this tragic incident,” said Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Raymond C. Fox, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force commanding general. “We remain focused on ensuring that they are supported through this difficult time. We mourn their loss, and it is with heavy hearts we remember their courage and sacrifice.”
The mortar round exploded in its firing tube during the exercise, Brig. Gen. Jim Lukeman said at a news conference at Camp Lejeune. He said investigators were trying to determine the cause of the malfunction.
The Pentagon expanded a temporary ban to prohibit the military from firing any 60 mm mortar rounds until the results of the investigation. The Marine Corps said Tuesday a “blanket suspension” of 60 mm mortars and associated firing tubes is in effect.
The Pentagon earlier had suspended use of all high-explosive and illumination mortar rounds that were in the same manufacturing lots as ones fired in Nevada.