An explosion at a chocolate factory in Pennsylvania left five people dead and several injured, and rescue crews were combing through debris on Saturday looking for six others still missing.
The blast at the R.M. Palmer Company in West Reading, about 62 miles northeast of Pennsylvania, occurred around 5 p.m. ET on Friday, authorities said. The explosion leveled the building and damaged others nearby. The cause of the explosion is unclear.
Video taken by Philadelphia news station NBC 10 shows crews and a sniffer dog sifting through the rubble. Residents told the news outlet that the explosion could be felt some six blocks away.
#BREAKING: Fire crews are battling a fire at a chocolate factory in West Reading, Pennsylvania late Friday afternoon.https://t.co/tTCjn37uKw
— NBC10 Philadelphia (@NBCPhiladelphia) March 24, 2023
Eight people were taken to Reading Hospital for treatment, Lehigh Valley News reported. The factory employs 850 people, according to the company’s website.
“The tragic explosion at R.M. Company and the loss of life has shaken our community,” West Reading Mayor Samantha Kaag said in a statement. “I hope the remaining victims are found safe, and that the community can continue to provide support to those affected by this tragedy.”
She also urged the public to avoid the area around the factory as emergency response workers continue recovery efforts and asses damage.
To the residents, community, and those effected by todays tragedy – I extend my deepest sympathies. We are all in this together. pic.twitter.com/yzZsnunhyK
— Mayor Samantha Kaag (@SamanthaKaag) March 25, 2023
The R.M. Palmer Company did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. The company has been making seasonal chocolate candies and novelties since 1948, according to its website. – BLOOMBERG