7 Killed, 8 Injured in Explosion at Hawthorne Army Depot
Courtesy: Marilyn Newton/Reno Gazette-Journal
Seven killed and eight more injured in a mortar explosion at Hawthorne Army Depot late Monday night.
The United States Marine Corps reported Wednesday morning that another injured Marine has been reported bringing the total injured to eight. Renown Regional Medical Center says six of the patients it received are still hospitalized; three are in serious condition and three are in fair condition as of 8:50 a.m. Wednesday.
The identities of the Marines killed haven't been released yet pending notification of their families and a 24-hour waiting period after that.
An official with Veterans of Foreign Wars tells Channel 2 that an eight Marine passed away Tuesday, however Wednesday morning a USMC spokesperson said that information was incorrect.
During a live press conference from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, 2nd Marine Division Command General Jim Lukeman said the Marines had been training in both Bridgeport, California and Hawthorne for about the past month and that their routine training is not linked to any specific deployment. "We send our prayers and condolences to the families of the marines and sailors that have been killed and injured in this tragic accident. Our first priority is to provide them with the support they need during this very difficult time, and we're doing that right now."
He went on to say two Marines and one sailor were very seriously injured, three Marines suffered serious injuries, and one Marine was treated for minor injuries suffered during the accident.
A general family assistance phone line is set up at Renown at 775-982-6060. Renown will also post updates of the conditions of those hospitalized on its website at http://www.renown.org/
The Marines were training in our area because the terrain and altitude are similar to Afghanistan. The Marines training in Hawthorne are part of the 2nd Marine Division based in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
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.
According to the AP, the 60mm mortar exploded unexpectedly during the training. The Pentagon has expanded a temporary ban to prohibit the military from firing any 60mm mortar rounds until an investigation determines them to be safe. The Marine Corps said Tuesday a "blanket suspension" of 60mm mortars and associated firing tubes is in effect until it can review their safe use. The Pentagon earlier had suspended use of all high-explosive and illumination mortar rounds that were in the same manufacturing lots as ones fired in Nevada.
An 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 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.
"We send our prayers and condolences to the families of Marines involved in this tragic incident. We remain focused on ensuring that they are supported through this difficult time," said Maj. Gen. Raymond C. Fox, II MEF commanding general. "We mourn their loss, and it is with heavy hearts we remember their courage and sacrifice."