OAN Roy Francis
UPDATED 9:38 AM – Saturday, March 25, 2023
An explosion at the historic R.M. Palmer chocolate factory in Pennsylvania has left two people dead, nine missing, and eight injured on Friday.
The explosion occurred around 5:00 pm on Friday afternoon, in West Reading, which is located around 60 miles northwest of Philadelphia. West Reading Borough Police Chief, Wayne Holben, confirmed the number of fatalities and the five missing people.
Mayor Samantha Kaag said that rescue efforts were underway after the explosion, with at least one person having been rescued from the rubble alive.
“We had about 8 go to the hospital last night, but we can’t speculate on their condition or on if there’s any more or less,” the mayor said. “Unfortunately it’s a tragic event that we’re still gathering information on.”
Firefighters had responded to the facility after the explosion, which had leveled R.M. Palmer’s Building 2 and causing damage to Building 1.
Officials said that there was no further risk, however residents were advised to stay clear of the surrounding area of the factory until further notice. People in the nearby apartment building were also temporarily relocated, with no timeline on when they would be allowed back into the building.
Investigators were on scene, working to determine the cause of the explosion along with a rescue operation to locate the nine people who were missing.
According to R.M. Palmer’s website the company employs over 850 people at their headquarters in West Reading.