Explosion at RM Palmer chocolate factory in Pennsylvania kills 2, others missing and injured
An explosion at a historic chocolate factory in southeastern Pennsylvania left two dead, several missing and eight others injured on Friday afternoon.
West Reading Borough Police Department Chief Wayne Holben confirmed two dead and nine missing after an explosion at the RM Palmer Co. chocolate factory in West Reading shortly before 5 p.m.
Tower Health spokeswoman Jessica Bezler told The Associated Press in an email that eight more people were taken to Reading Hospital with injuries on Friday evening. Bezler said two people were admitted in fair condition and five others were treated and released.
She added that one victim was taken to another facility. Limited details are available on this person’s condition.
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Firefighters responded to the facility on 2nd Avenue South in the heart of the city after reports of an explosion and a multi-alarm fire, FOX 29 Philadelphia reported. The outlet’s weather camera captured the massive explosion, which sent large debris into the air and left a cloud of thick, puffy smoke.
The explosion caused extensive destruction, leveling RM Palmer Building 2 and causing damage to Building 1.
Holden said there was no longer any danger but advised residents to avoid the area around the plant until further notice. He also said investigators were working to determine the cause of the explosion.
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Liz Soto, who was near the explosion, told FOX 29 she heard “a loud noise, like a roar, and then the house shook.” She also said she had not heard from a friend who works inside the factory.
“She went to work, it’s been confirmed that she went to work, but we don’t know anything about her,” Soto told the outlet.
Friday evening, several firefighters were still on site.
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According to the RM Palmer website, the company has been in business since 1948 and has more than 850 employees at its headquarters in West Reading.
The candy factory is known for its seasonal novelties, such as chocolate Easter bunnies, and is one of America’s largest and most innovative confectioners.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.