The explosion at Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada appears to have been a training-ground accident. Early reports suggest perhaps a mortar exploded prematurely.
Lance Cpl. M. C. Nerl/US Marine Corps/Reuters/File
The accident took place at 10 p.m. local time Monday at Hawthorne Army Depot in western Nevada, about 135 miles south of Reno, the Marine Corps Times website reports. In addition to the seven fatalities, eight other Marines were taken to a hospital, five of whom are listed as in being in serious condition, according to a Good Morning America/Yahoo News report.
All of the Marines involved in the accident were based at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Hawthorne is used for training partly because it "provides a realistic simulation of the situation in Afghanistan," the depot's website says.
The accident involved the explosion of a 60mm mortar. The cause of the accident remains under investigation, but a military official who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity said initial on-scene reports suggested that the mortar round exploded prematurely in the launcher tube.
Several defense officials confirmed that the incident apparently did not involve a live round of ammunition landing on the Marines, according the Good Morning America report.