A premature explosion of a mortar round is the “unofficial” cause of incident that killed seven Marines and injured seven more according to a report by Reuters.
Army and Marine officials said the cause of the Monday night blast was under investigation, but a military official who spoke on condition of anonymity said initial reports from the scene indicated that a 60mm mortar round exploded prematurely in the tube of a mortar launcher.
The official said three Marines were killed instantly.
Victims were airlifted to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno with injuries that included penetration trauma, fractures and vascular injuries, said Stacy Kendall, a spokeswoman for the medical center. The status of the injured was unclear.
The explosion occurred at 10 p.m.
The U.S. Marines killed and injured are from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Lejenue, N.C.
The Department of Defense press release:
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C., March 19, 2013 – 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 cause of the incident is under investigation.