Seven Marines were killed during a training exercise at a U.S. Army depot in western Nevada, Marine Corps officials said Tuesday.
The explosion shortly before 10 p.m. Monday at Hawthorne Army Depot also injured several others from the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, N.C., according to a statement released to The Times by Marine Captain Binford R. Strickland.
At least eight injured were in Renown Medical Center in Reno, Nev., where they were listed in conditions from serious to fair, a spokeswoman told The Times.
The identities of those killed have not been released, pending notification of next of kin, the statement said. Strickland said the status of the 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," Maj. Gen. Raymond C. Fox, commanding general of the division, said in the statement. "We mourn their loss, and it is with heavy hearts we remember their courage and sacrifice."
The cause of the incident was still under investigation, according to the statement.
It was not clear what type of training exercise the Marines were involved in.
Army spokesman George Wright told The Times that the explosion was caused by “a 60-millimeter mortar round that was lodged in the tube” during a training exercise.
The training involved live-fire ranges and the handling of ammunition and explosives, said Master Sgt. Jonathan Cress, a Marine spokesman at Camp Lejeune.
Cress declined to identify the unit involved or to say whether the unit is training for a deployment to Afghanistan.
Hawthorne Army Depot is about 140 miles southeast of Reno and is used for high-desert training facilities for military units. It is also used for storing ammunition and weapon stocks awaiting demilitarization, according to Army spokesman Dave Foster.
The depot, which is government-owned but contractor-operated, claims to be the world’s largest at 147,000 acres, Foster said. As of last year, the Army had 892 staff working at the depot, including 367 soldiers and 525 civilians, Foster said. It was unclear how many total service members were there at the time of the explosion.
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