Nevada training accident kills 7 NC unit Marines

TED BRIDIS
Associated Press
FILE - This May 20, 2005 file photo shows storage bunkers at  the U.S. Army Depot in Hawthorne, Nev.  Seven Marines from a North Carolina unit were killed and several injured in a training accident at the Hawthorne Army Depot, the Marine Corps said Tuesday, March 19, 2013.  The cause of the accident, that occurred shortly before 10 p.m. PST, Monday, March 18,  is under investigation, officials said in a statement from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp LeJeune, N.C.  The Hawthorne Army Depot stores and disposes of ammunition. The facility is made up of hundreds of buildings spread over more than 230 square miles.  (AP Photo/Joe Cavaretta, File)
FILE - This May 20, 2005 file photo shows storage bunkers at the U.S. Army Depot in Hawthorne, Nev. Seven Marines from a North Carolina unit were killed and several injured in a training accident at the Hawthorne Army Depot, the Marine Corps said Tuesday, March 19, 2013. The cause of the accident, that occurred shortly before 10 p.m. PST, Monday, March 18, is under investigation, officials said in a statement from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp LeJeune, N.C. The Hawthorne Army Depot stores and disposes of ammunition. The facility is made up of hundreds of buildings spread over more than 230 square miles. (AP Photo/Joe Cavaretta, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Marine Corps official says the seven Marines killed in Nevada died after a 60mm mortar exploded unexpectedly during a training accident. The Marines immediately issued an indefinite moratorium on firing of all such mortars worldwide until an investigation clears as safe the type of weapon and ammunition in the tragedy. Several other Marines were hurt.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was not immediately clear whether the mortar exploded prematurely inside its firing tube or whether more than a single round exploded. The official was not authorized to speak to a reporter about the accident.

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.