News

4 Marines die in accident at Camp Pendleton

4 Marines die in accident at Camp Pendleton

MARINES KILLED: Vehicles file through the main gate of Camp Pendleton Marine Base on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Four Marines were reported killed today in an accident while clearing an unexploded ordnance. Photo: Associated Press/Lenny Ignelzi

By Marty Graham

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) – Four U.S. Marines were killed on Wednesday in an accident while clearing a training area used as an artillery and aerial bombing range at Camp Pendleton in Southern California, a military spokesman said.

NBC News reported the Marines were killed when unexploded ordnance unexpectedly detonated, but the spokesman could not immediately confirm that, saying only the Marines had been clearing the area.

Marines spokesman Lieutenant Ryan Finnegan said the clearance operation would have involved anything necessary to keep the range free of obstructions, which could include disposing of ordnance. But he could not say they were handling ordnance when the accident occurred.

The cause of the accident, which happened on Wednesday morning at the Zulu Impact Area in the interior part of the base, was under investigation.

No live-fire exercise was under way at Zulu at the time, and while such an exercise was occurring at neighboring Whiskey Impact Area, it played no role in the deaths, Finnegan said.

“We offer our heartfelt prayers and condolences to the families of the Marines lost today in this tragic accident,” Brigadier General John Bullard, commanding general of the base, said in a statement. “Our first priority is to provide the families with the support they need during this difficult time.”

Finnegan said the Marines killed were not new recruits and were based at Camp Pendleton, but the military did not release their ages or other details about them.

Training at Camp Pendleton, including the live fire at Whiskey Impact Area, continued after the fatalities, he said.

The Zulu Impact Area is a restricted zone because of the danger of unexploded ordnance, according to Camp Pendleton’s website. As a result, efforts to contain wildfires and study biology there are limited, the website description stated.

Seven Marines were killed in an accidental munitions depot blast in Nevada in March. In May, a U.S. Navy SEAL was killed in a vehicle accident during a training exercise at Fort Knox in Kentucky.

In September 2011, two Marines aboard a helicopter died when it crashed during a training mission at Camp Pendleton, two months after a Marine was killed when another helicopter went down at the base.

Camp Pendleton, 40 miles north of San Diego, is the main West Coast base for the Marine Corps.

Recent Headlines

in Local

Drunk Boating Monitored

Boater

Law enforcement officers were scattered around Iowa last weekend monitoring lakes and rivers for drunk boaters as part of the national Operation Dry Water campaign.

in Local

Less Bacteria, More Algae in Iowa Lakes

lake

Sunny days with less rainfall have helped clear up some of the bacteria problems in the water at Iowa park beaches.

in Local

Iowa Governor Vetoes School Spending

Money Dollars

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has been hinting for weeks that he was unhappy with the legislature's bipartisan compromise on education funding.

in Local

Caution Needed With Fireworks Displays

fireworks

Everyone loves a backyard fireworks display or attending a big show on the 4th of July.

in Local

OSHA Investigating Nebraska Explosion

firetruck lights

The U-S Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened an investigation into Wednesday's explosion at Sapp Bros. in West Point, Nebraska.