7 Marines Killed in Mortar Explosion

Seven U.S. Marines were killed and at least seven wounded when a mortar exploded during a live-fire training exercise overnight at an Army munitions depot in the Nevada desert, military officials told NBC News. There were conflicting reports about what happened. According to one account, a 60-millimeter mortar shell exploded in a tube as Marines were preparing to fire it. Another account said that the shell exploded as Marines were picking it up to load it. The accident happened just before 10 p.m. Monday at Hawthorne Army Depot, a 147,000-acre ammunition storage and training facility just east of the California line. The injured were taken to two hospitals. Stacy Kendall, a spokeswoman for Renown Regional Medical Center, a trauma center about 100 miles away in Reno, said the injuries included traumas and fractures. The Marines were part of the 2nd Marine Division, a ground combat force based at Camp Lejeune, N.C. The depot's website says it is a training facility for Special Operations forces preparing to deploy to the Middle East.

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