Update: Officials said that four people are now dead and 3 people are still missing after a devastating explosion at a Pennsylvania chocolate factory
A devastating explosion at the RM Palmer Company candy factory in West Reading, Pennsylvania, has left five people dead, six unaccounted for, and several injured. Seven individuals were transported to local hospitals following the blast at the factory on South Second Avenue on Friday.
On Saturday morning, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) provided updates on the number of fatalities. Rail traffic in the vicinity has resumed, albeit with a 5 mph speed restriction. Recovery efforts for the remaining missing persons continue.
West Reading Mayor Samantha Kaag commented on the state of the chocolate factory, which has been in operation since 1948 and employs 850 people: "It's pretty leveled," she said. "Pretty scary." The explosion destroyed one building of the company, while damaging an adjacent apartment building and a church.
Police Chief Wayne Holben reassured the community that there is no ongoing danger, and Mayor Kaag confirmed that no evacuations were taking place. PEMA reported that six people were injured and seven were missing, while six individuals received medical attention.
UGI officials were on site alongside first responders, and the mayor praised the community's prompt response to the tragedy: "A lot of the community is taken care of and handled," Kaag said.
As of Friday night, no contact had been made with anyone from RM Palmer. The investigation into the cause of the explosion is ongoing, as are rescue operations for the nine unaccounted-for individuals. Residents of the damaged apartment building have been displaced, and it is unclear when they will be permitted to return home.