Marines hurt when howitzer explodes

FORT BRAGG, NC

Eight of the troops were getting treatment at the Womack Army Medical Center. Two others were flown to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill. Their conditions were not given.

The explosion happened around 8 p.m. Monday during an artillery live fire exercise. Officials said the troops were firing an M777A2 howitzer when an "in-bore" explosion occured.

The troops belong to the Gulf Battery, 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division.

The 10th Marine Regiment conducts annual artillery training at Fort Bragg, because it is the closest place where marines can fire the big guns for realistic training.

The M777A2 is 40 percent lighter than the M198 weapon it replaced, so it can be easily airlifted by helicopter or towed on the ground.

As ABC11 reported earlier this month, beginning on March 9, the 10th Marine Regiment was scheduled to begin its annual live fire training with the 155 millimeter Howitzers that can fire rounds about 35 miles down range.

Training was scheduled to wrap up on March 21.

Right now, the Marine unit training at Fort Bragg is in a "Check Fire Status," which means training has been stopped until safe training can resume.

In the meantime, the cause of the incident is under investigation.



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