Seven US Marines die in mortar explosion

 

A 60mm mortar explosion killed seven Marines and injured a half-dozen more during a training exercise in the Nevada desert, prompting the Pentagon to immediately halt the use of the weapon worldwide until an investigation can determine its safety, a US military official has said.

The explosion happened on Monday night at the Hawthorne Army Depot, a facility used by troops about to go overseas.

Several Marines from the unit were injured in the blast, authorities said.

The official said it was not immediately clear whether the mortar exploded prematurely inside its firing tube or whether more than a single round exploded.

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.

The rescue was complicated by the remoteness of the site, since a helicopter to the nearest city – Reno – takes 41 minutes and small hospitals in rural Nevada are not prepared to accommodate mass casualties.

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