Three U.S. Marines Wounded in Afghan Mine Blast
Sunday December 16 9:48 AM ET
CAMP RHINO, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Three U.S. Marines were wounded on Sunday when one stepped on what appeared to have been a mine while clearing ordnance from Kandahar airport in southern Afghanistan, an officer said.
One man lost his leg below the knee and was flown directly to a U.S. military hospital in the Gulf area, the first serious injury among the Marines since they landed in Afghanistan three weeks ago.
The two others were flown by helicopter for medical treatment at Camp Rhino, the base south of Kandahar that the Marines established on November 25, said staff sergeant Daniel Hottle.
The three were providing security for an explosive ordnance disposal team that had begun work to make the airport safe for military and civilian use since the Marines took control of it on Friday, he said.
The incident occurred outside the airport buildings, indicating the device was a mine rather than a booby trap.
One of those being treated at Camp Rhino sustained an injury to his left hand while another was hit by shrapnel in his left ear and suffered a perforated eardrum as well as a bruise to the shinbone, Hottle said.
``He may have a loss of hearing from the perforated eardrum,'' he added.
The pair will be sent for further treatment at a U.S. hospital in the Gulf region.
The accident occurred at 7:40 a.m. GMT, with the two less seriously wounded arriving at Camp Rhino in a UH-1N Huey helicopter just over two hours later.
One with a bandaged left hand and another holding an intravenous drip walked out of the back of a military ambulance that had driven them to the medical tent from the Camp Rhino airfield.
Before the incident the only injury sustained among the Marines was when two were slightly hurt when a helicopter crashed at Camp Rhino on Dec. 6.
A CIA agent and a handful of other U.S. military personnel belonging to various branches of the armed forces have been killed since the United States launched its offensive in Afghanistan on Oct. 7.
The latest injuries have not halted patrols at Kandahar airport, which was seized by U.S. troops on Friday after fighters loyal to Osama bin Laden were driven from the bomb-battered runways.
Marines have been charged with clearing the airport of booby traps and mines as well as overpowering any al Qaeda or Taliban fighters who may still be lurking in culverts by the runway.
Work has also started on a prison camp with facilities to house up to 300 captured fighters of bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.
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