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Human error cited in fatal mortar blast

RALEIGH, N.C. — A military investigation has determined human error was to blame for a March mortar explosion that killed seven US Marines during a live-fire training exercise in Nevada.

First Lieutenant Oliver David, a spokesman at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, said in a statement Wednesday that a Marine operating a mortar tube ‘‘did not follow correct procedures, resulting in the detonation of a high explosive round at the mortar position.’’

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The investigation, initiated by Brigadier General James Lukeman, commanding general of the Second Marine Division, also determined that the mortar team had not conducted appropriate training before the live-fire exercise.

The Marines did not release a copy of the investigative report and declined to provide further details about the nature of the deadly mistake. Officials also would not say whether changes to training procedures were enacted as a result of the review.

Marine officials announced earlier this month that two officers and a noncommissioned officer were removed from command after the March 18 accident at Hawthorne Army Depot. Seven Marines and a sailor were also wounded.

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