Mortar explosion in firing tube kills Camp Lejeune Marines in Nev.
Camp Lejeune, N.C. — A mortar shell explosion killed at least seven Marines from Camp Lejeune and injured several more during mountain warfare training in Nevada's high desert, prompting the Pentagon to immediately halt the use of the weapons until an investigation can determine their safety, officials said Tuesday.
The explosion occurred Monday night at the Hawthorne Army Depot, a sprawling facility used by troops heading overseas, during an exercise involving the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force from Camp Lejeune, N.C. Several Marines from the unit were injured in the blast, authorities said.
The 60mm mortar round exploded in its firing tube during the exercise, Brig. Gen. Jim Lukeman said at a news conference at Camp Lejeune. He said investigators were trying to determine the cause of the malfunction.
"We don't know yet what caused this malfunction," Lukeman told reporters at Camp Lejeune Tuesday afternoon. "A team of investigators have begun investigating to figure out just what happened."
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.