Eight Marines were rushed to a San Diego burn center and seven others were also hospitalized after their amphibious vehicle caught fire during a training exercise at a military base. Three of the Marines were listed in critical condition Wednesday afternoon at the Burn Center at University of California San Diego Health and five were in serious condition, the Marine Corps said in a statement. Four other Marines were rushed to the University of California Irvine Medical Center in nearby Orange County, including two in critical condition, the AP reports. Another Marine at a hospital in La Jolla was in stable condition and two others were treated for minor injuries at a Navy hospital at Camp Pendleton.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Marines and their families affected by this incident," a Marine Corps statement said. The Marines from the 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, and 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion were conducting a combat readiness evaluation as part of their battalion training at about 9:30am on a beach at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base, north of San Diego, when the amphibious vehicle ignited, said Marine 1st Lt. Paul Gainey. According to an anonymous defense official who was not authorized to discuss the incident publicly, the amphibious vehicle got stuck and then caught fire as the Marines were trying to free it. The armored vehicle is used to carry Marines and their equipment from Navy ships onto land. It resembles a tank and travels through water before coming ashore. It has been used in the Marine Corps since the 1970s. The command is investigating the incident. (Read more Camp Pendleton stories.)