Moratorium on Mortar Firing After Deadly Explosion

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The Marines provide the following, they’ve suspended the use of 60 mm mortar rounds from the same lot that were being used in Nevada. The suspension for mortar rounds from that lot applies to training in the US and in Afghanistan. There is no blanket suspension of mortar rounds.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A Marine Corps official says the seven Marines killed in Nevada died after a 60mm mortar exploded unexpectedly during a training accident. 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 were hurt.

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.


HAWTHORNE, NV - At least seven US Marines are dead after a mortar explosion at the Army Depot in Hawthorne Monday night. They are from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina, and were training in Nevada.

A statement from the Marine Corps reads:

"A fatal incident occurred during a training exercise shortly before 10 p.m. Monday at Hawthorne Army Depot, Nev., killing seven service members and injuring several others with 2nd Marine Division.

The injured have been transported to area hospitals for treatment and further evaluation.

The identities of those killed will be provided 24 hours after primary next of kin notification. The status of those injured will be provided as it becomes available.

We send our prayers and condolences to the families of Marines involved in this tragic incident. We remain focused on ensuring that they are supported through this difficult time," said Maj. Gen. Raymond C. Fox, II MEF commanding general. "We mourn their loss, and it is with heavy hearts we remember their courage and sacrifice."

The cause of the incident is under investigation."

A depot spokesperson says the explosion is not related to ammunition stored at the depot.

Hawthorne is about 135 miles southeast of Reno. The Hawthorne Army Depot stores and disposes of ammunition. The facility is made up of hundreds of buildings spread over more than 230 square miles.

Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno received eight of the patients from Hawthorne; one of them was one of the seven total who died. As of noon Tuesday, four of the patients are in serious condition, two are in fair condition, and one has been discharged.

General types of injuries include trauma, fractures and vascular injuries.

A general family assistance center phone line, 775-982-6060, has been activated.

KOLO 8 News Now has crews in Hawthorne and will provide updates throughout the day.