Four Marines were killed in a training exercise accident at Camp Pendleton military base on Wednesday morning. According to a military spokesman, the accident occurred while clearing a training area, during a range maintenance exercise at the base, near San Diego. The cause of the accident is still under investigation, Reuters reports.
A base spokesman told USA Today “the accident came during regularly scheduled maintenance of an impact area, known as area Zulu, where artillery, mortar and aerial bombs strike during training exercises.” NBC News reports that the Marines were killed when “unexploded ordnance blew up after a training accident.”
“The deaths come about eight months after a mortar explosion killed seven Marines during a live-fire training exercise in Nevada,” according to the Associated Press. “A military investigation determined human error was to blame for that accident. According to the probe’s findings, a Marine operating a 60 mm mortar tube and ammunition did not follow correct procedures, resulting in the detonation of a high explosive round at the mortar position. The investigation also determined that the mortar team involved in the accident had not conducted ‘appropriate preparatory training.’”
The identities of the dead have been withheld until relatives can be notified, officials said.