At least five people were killed and six others were missing Saturday after an explosion at a historic chocolate factory in Pennsylvania.
He Explosion rocked RM Palmer Co. plant in the heart of West Reading around 5pm on Friday. One building was completely destroyed by the blast, while a second neighboring building, which includes apartments, was damaged.
“It’s pretty flattened,” West Reading County Mayor Samantha Kaag said of the blast site. “The building in the front, with the church and the apartments, the explosion was so big that it moved that building four feet forward.”
Officials initially said two people were killed in the blast, but the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency revealed in an update Saturday that the death toll had risen to five.
Several other people were injured in the afternoon blast, according to West Reading Borough Police Department Chief Wayne Holben. He did not confirm the exact number of injuries.
Tower Health spokeswoman Jessica Bezler said eight people were taken to Reading Hospital on Friday night, including two people who were admitted in acceptable condition and five others who are expected to be released after treatment.
Recovery efforts for the missing also continued on Saturday, and an investigation into the cause of the explosion is underway.
Although it was not necessary to evacuate, several residents were displaced from the damaged apartment building. Holden added that there was no further danger to the community, but advised people to avoid the area surrounding the factory until further notice.
According to the RM Palmer website, it has been making “chocolate novelties” since 1948 and now has 850 employees at its West Reading headquarters.
with cable news services