U.S. Military Training Explosion: 7 Marines Killed in Nevada

A unit from Camp Lejeune suffered fatalities during mortar accident.
9:21 | 03/19/13

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Transcript for U.S. Military Training Explosion: 7 Marines Killed in Nevada
At least seven Marines have been killed during a training exercise at the Hawthorne army depot in Nevada. Seven others also injured it happened during a mortar firing exercise at the depot it's about a 140 miles south east of Reno. -- wanna bring an ABC news digital correspondent. Louis Martinez at the Pentagon -- what can you tell us about this accident. World and what we know is that this was a -- -- incident -- involved a group of Marines based intently on North Carolina. They were out there at this large -- facility out in the middle of the desert in northern Nevada. We are told by several officials that this mortar incident did not involve around at landing on the group -- Marines. I'm instead -- suggestion that something may have occurred during the handling -- transportation. One mortar round or other rounds. -- -- for you that the number of wounded here and killed and at seven. -- killed and seven wounded in this incident is very high. The numbers it is certainly come in this morning kept -- surprising as. As it developed initially been told that there -- several injuries. In due course of a couple of hours then that'd be -- hearing or fatalities. But we never expected that the numbers should be this time. -- we can you give me a sense of just how big this training facility is several battalions trainer at the same time. Well actually this is -- more you know army depot into the exit their interest in case this is could be popcorn army depot. -- -- -- is actually the name says stores. And disposes of ammunition. And in addition -- that they also provide storage for industrial plant equipment with a multi use facility contains hundreds of buildings. Spread out over more than -- 130 square miles. That large space but of course that Nevada is wide open space to to -- in this is -- state with the most. Federal land on -- a lot of it taking place military training facilities. What we do you understand is that the one official one official added IQ said that he knew that this is the unit from. Can't -- but he was uncertain whether it was an entire battalion. Of Marines. Typically for a unit that site consists about a thousand Marines it's become clear that they -- -- the portion. Is that Italian that was training out there in Nevada or whether the entire -- -- -- -- many details of the remains to be determined as the day goes. And I'm assuming right now that the military is obviously on site -- their couldn't conduct an investigation about exactly just what went through this any early indication about what may have caused this. Nothing more than what we've been told that it involved a mortar. Again we'd been told it could've possibly been. Com that the mortars are being transported. Obviously -- being -- and ammunition depot. May have been transported -- that range -- just from one part of selling to another. Part of the training force some courses is to learn how to properly carry. Live ammunition. Again it's unclear that the case here or if this was. Desperate chance during actual training that during the loading. Into the the canister that -- around. That it may have been something like that. It's all very -- -- still be to be determined many officials -- Involved in this as -- we've seen that actually local. The first responders involved because many of the -- most of actually all. The wounded were taken to local facilities in Reno area. About how long I do battalions typically spend at this depot and training mode. Well -- thinking and the opinion -- is going to be deployed today it will would be seized various specific training. So for example lists the EC unity going to go into Afghanistan -- -- going to go into an area that replicate the climate the atmosphere of Afghanistan. -- -- -- If they are going to mountainous regions in Afghanistan. They will go. To the mountains of California. When the Sierra Nevada mountains -- the Marines -- -- facility. And they will trained there so that they can get the debt and to cut first and experience -- that kind of look at the conditions. -- -- and again it's unclear what kind of training this particular unit was undergoing at this facility. This one. Army people it doesn't sound to me like the kind of facility -- -- -- -- live fire exercises but then again it could -- Iraq. Typically -- units that are deploying for Afghanistan unless it's very specific. Temperature like -- sort of the mountainous training gonna train -- In there local facility which has kept him or camp and -- It sounds like a very specialized training facility are there others like this around the country -- -- four Marines. There are -- at -- the the mountain warfare command is what it is the one in the cared about it and it is called. That's one that to the green veggies. The Marines thought they use different treatment facilities along the North Carolina shore. When they conduct that he's cheating. When we think the Marines -- -- -- them backpack and -- Q conducting amphibious landings on the beaches the Pacific. To maintain that they are an idiot forced. And so they conduct training. Landing if you will on the beaches of North Carolina sometimes. -- they try to come up with that much real world experiences they can that's what they use this. Is that similar to what the Marines and the army does. When they prepare to deploy. They -- sent to the joint. National training center out in Fort Irwin. In the Mojave Desert. I would Miller attacked mr. tanks and then in the last decade or so with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan what they've done there is instead of fighting planning for conventional. Well warfare what they've done is days. A practice their counterinsurgency so in other words they engage with locals. Meetings and how -- conduct patrols. I I know that this happened it's a relatively short time ago but I was wondering if we have any idea whether the military has notified. The families of those lost. What would be we have been told that the procedure for this will be very similar to what happens with combat fatalities overseas in the deployment. Typically what happened is that this -- is the next of kin have been notified. There is a 24 hour waiting period that was designed by law. After actually as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Congress did not want families -- entering a period of creating to be. To be bothered by either press or other distractions. And so -- in -- 24 hour waiting period before the last. Been known next of kin notification is gone out so that means that there are seven individual that there are in this case once the seventh. What the final and -- -- has been notified and then to 24 hour clock goes out and and the Pentagon releases a joint release with all of its. Given the nature of the country and it goes on and and they and attendance -- -- goes on this -- it is it's in a remote area in Nevada. Attract net and it's very far away are close our affiliates in Reno is about four and a half hours away driving from from -- but you know that's pretty far. And given -- from the distance now between that major city in Nevada. The injured in this case for medevac. To local hospitals by helicopter. That was being -- for the transportation elect Nevada is. A large state but it's -- bad and the state which is why. There's a lot of federal plan to honor a lot of it is desert. We know of course Nellis Air Force Base the legendary. Area 51. Being a part of that training facility pretty -- The navy also has its own training facility after congress and naval air station talent -- conduct air to air training there as well. -- training not so much. -- and that's mostly out in either in California for the Marines and for the army. At the joint. National center -- at Fort Polk in Louisiana where the -- they're -- between. And again we're hearing that this was a mortar explosion and you better any tons of ammunition is it all types of ammunition that's stored at this kind of depot. It appears that the case appears it's there for lines long term storage and for the disposal ammunition. Ammunition -- -- state life for every. And as we don't know -- bombs from World War II continue to be out -- -- European cities. And I think there indicate just last year in Germany where -- a live bomb was discovered you know as -- -- construction crews work. Digging into. Had to evacuate to -- many blocks because the damage the potential is huge. So the disposal takes -- peers because of their life -- and on the smaller needed. And that -- -- All right ABC's -- Martinez at the Pentagon Louis thank you for much for your information this morning again to repeat seven Marines from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina have been killed. In a mortar firing exercise at the Hawthorne army depot in Nevada. This has spent an ABC news now special report -- a complete recap on abcnews.com. For now we return you -- -- -- are scheduled program. Since -- -- special with the from in the ABC news now.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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