Six U.S. Marines were killed and at least eight 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 at Hawthorne Army Depot, a 147,000-acre ammunition storage and training facility just east of the California line.
Four Marines were killed instantly, military officials told NBC News. The two others died while waiting to be flown to the hospital.
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 that it was treating eight people, three in serious condition and five in fair condition. She said that the injuries included traumas and fractures.
The depot’s website says it is a training facility for Special Operations forces preparing to deploy to the Middle East.