Military Bans Mortars After Marine Deaths
Pentagon issues mortar moratorium following deadly training disaster
By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2013 8:15 AM CDT
A billboard asks people to pray for the Marines killed in Hawthorne, Nevada, on Monday, March 18, 2013. A mortar shell explosion killed seven Marines during training in Nevada's high desert.   (AP Photo/The Reno Gazette-Journal, Marilyn Newton)
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(Newser) – The Pentagon has issued a "blanket suspension" on all 60mm mortar rounds until it can figure out what went wrong in the tragic mortar blast that killed seven Marines in Nevada on Monday night, reports CBS. The move follows an earlier ban on rounds that were manufactured along with the mortar in question, which exploded while still in its firing tube at the Hawthorne Army Depot.

Firing a mortar is typically a three- to four-person job: a shell is dropped into a tube where it hits a firing pin and is blasted back out. But a premature explosion in the mortar pit can take out anyone nearby—in addition to the seven Marines killed, eight others were injured in the blast, Reuters reports. It's still unclear whether the accident was caused by user error, the firing device, or the mortar shell itself. But the moratorium will remain in effect until an investigation is complete, possibly months away.