7 US Marines killed in training exercise

2013-03-20 09:02
Marines from 2nd Platoon, Charlie Company 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division firing a Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon during platoon attacks as part of an exercise. (US Marine Corps, Corporal Christopher O’Quin/ AFP

Marines from 2nd Platoon, Charlie Company 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division firing a Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon during platoon attacks as part of an exercise. (US Marine Corps, Corporal Christopher O’Quin/ AFP

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - Seven US Marines were killed and eight others wounded when a mortar round exploded while still in its launch tube during a training exercise in Nevada, the military said on Tuesday.

The accident involved a powerful 60mm round and the Marine Corps ordered a ban on the use of such mortars after the incident, pending the outcome of an investigation.

"A blanket suspension of 60mm mortars and associated tubes is now in effect until review is complete," said Marine Corps spokeswoman Captain Kendra Motz.

The number of troops reported wounded in the blast rose to eight late on Tuesday, including two "very seriously" injured, according to a Marine Corps statement.

"The Marines were conducting live fire and manoeuvre training at the Hawthorne army depot," said Brigadier General Jim Lukeman, head of the 2nd Marine Division, which was taking part in the drill.

A 60mm round went off while in a mortar tube and "we don't know yet what caused this malfunction", the general told reporters at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where the 2nd division is based.

Condolences

The vast depot in the western Nevada desert spans almost 60 000 hectares and includes more than 2 000 bunkers. Its desolate terrain and high altitude is used to train troops preparing to deploy to Afghanistan.

Major General Raymond Fox, the commander of the II Marine Expeditionary Force, expressed sorrow over the casualties.

"We mourn their loss, and it is with heavy hearts we remember their courage and sacrifice," he said in a statement.

US President Barack Obama and Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel were briefed on the accident and expressed their condolences, officials said.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada said: "My heart goes out to the families of those who lost their lives. And my sympathies are with their fellow Marines, who are also grieving this loss."

The site of the Nevada depot, about 225km southeast of Reno, was chosen for its remote location after a fatal accidental explosion at another depot in New Jersey in 1926.

Less training accidents

Hawthorne served as the main staging area for ammunition during World War II and once employed about 5 600 people.

The depot is now run by a contractor and is used to renovate ammunition, destroy outmoded ordnance and prepare troops for desert combat and other training.

The accident came a year after seven Marines were killed in a collision of helicopters near the border of California and Arizona, which involved an AH-1W Super Cobra chopper and a UH-14 Huey.

The Pentagon has tried to reduce the number of training accidents and says it has made some progress over the past decade. Aviation crashes have declined by about 45% since 2002.

Read more on:    us

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
5 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.