CAMP PENDLETON (CBSLA/AP) — Four Marines were killed Wednesday during a range maintenance operation, according to the U.S. Marine Corps.

The deadly incident took place at 11 a.m. in the Zulu Impact Area at Camp Pendleton, where the Marines were conducting routine range maintenance, KCAL9’s Stacey Butler reports. Butler said a base spokesman explained that could mean anything from removing obstructions such as grass to clearing unexploded ordnance.

As one Marine told Butler on Wednesday night, though, “Nothing’s really routine in the Marine Corps … anything could go wrong at any time. It’s just what we prepapre for.”

The accident did not happen during a live fire exercise,  KNX 1070’s Tom Reopelle reported.

The Associated Press, citing a Marine official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said the deaths occurred during a periodic sweep of explosive material to make ranges safe for future exercises.

The identities of those killed will be announced 24 hours after their families are notified.

“It hurts, because … every Marine counts,” one member of the service told Butler.

“We offer our heartfelt prayers and condolences to the families of the Marines lost today in this tragic accident. Our first priority is to provide the families with the support they need during this difficult time,” Brig. Gen. John W. Bullard said in a statement.

The cause of the accident was under investigation.

Eight months ago, a mortar explosion killed seven Marines in Nevada during a live-fire training exercise.

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