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HAWTHORNE -- A Veterans of Foreign Wars official says an eighth Marine has died after a mortar shell explosion during mountain warfare training in Nevada's high desert.

John Stroud, national junior vice commander in chief for the VWF, began a memorial event near the site of the blast by saying "one of the critical has passed."

Mourners then laid eight floral arrangements at a park near the Hawthorne Army Depot.

Stroud says he spoke with Marine officers who gave him the news before Tuesday night's ceremony. Messages left for a Marine spokesman were not immediately returned.

The explosion occurred Monday night at the sprawling facility during an exercise involving the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force from Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Several Marines from the unit were injured in the blast.

The identities of those killed won't be released until 24 hours after their families are notified.

Associated Press,

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