Two people were killed and nine are unaccounted for after a massive explosion occurred at the RM Palmer Company chocolate factory in West Reading, Pennsylvania on Friday. The blast, which took place just before 5 p.m., also led to at least eight individuals requiring hospital treatment.
A Reading hospital spokesperson informed NBC that one patient was transferred, two were in fair condition, and the remaining five were discharged. While investigators are still working to determine the cause of the explosion, officials suspect a gas leak might be responsible, according to WPVI.
Footage shared on social media captured the moment the building erupted violently, with debris and flames being propelled into the air. Videos of the aftermath revealed the building's remnants scattered in the street, with smoke still billowing from the wreckage.
West Reading Mayor and local firefighter Samantha Kaag told WPVI, "It's pretty leveled, unfortunately, there's not too much to be able to salvage from it." She also mentioned the explosion's force had displaced a nearby church and apartment building by four feet.
Although no residents were evacuated, the mayor urged individuals within one block of the blast site to steer clear of the area. Officials have assured the community, located approximately 60 miles northwest of Philadelphia, that there is no ongoing danger.
Founded in 1948 and headquartered in West Reading, the RM Palmer Company is among the largest confectioners in the United States. The company, which employs 850 people, is known for its holiday novelties such as chocolate Easter bunnies.