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.
Governor Brian Sandoval:
“I am deeply saddened to hear of the incident at the Hawthorne Army Depot this morning. The men and women who work and train there put service ahead of self each and every day. Kathleen and I wish to extend our deepest sympathies to those killed and their families. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been injured and we pray for their speedy recovery.”
Senator Dean Heller:
“My thoughts and prayers go out to the families who lost loved ones in this explosion, and the entire nation is grateful for the service of those whose lives were lost. I would also like to thank the first responders and medical personnel who are helping the injured, and wish those injured service members a speedy recovery. My staff and I will continue to closely monitor the situation."
Senator Harry Reid:
"Late last night, seven United States Marines were killed and several others were injured by an explosion during a training exercise near Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada. My thoughts are with those who were injured. 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.
Details are still emerging, and I will continue to follow this news closely. I will do whatever I can going forward to support the United States Military and the families of the fallen Marines."
Representative Steven Horsford:
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of life as the result of an explosion during a live-fire training at Hawthorne Army Depot last night. I had the honor and privilege visiting the Depot in January, which is located in Nevada’s 4th Congressional District. The families of those affected are in my thoughts and prayers, and I pray for the recovery of those in critical condition and receiving medical care. Our office is in contact with the Governor, local officials, and military command to receive updates on the situation.”