Explosion at RM Palmer chocolate factory in Pennsylvania kills two, injures eight
An explosion Friday night at the RM Palmer Chocolate Factory in West Reading, Pennsylvania, left two confirmed dead and eight injured, along with five others still missing.
A sixth missing person was found alive under the rubble overnight.
The explosion, followed by a four-alarm fire, broke out at the facility just before 5 p.m. Friday. Weather cameras from WTXF-TV, a subsidiary of Philadelphia Fox, captured the explosion ripping through the roof of a building.
BREAK: massive #blast at the RMPalmer factory in West Redding. Our weather cameras captured the explosion. Almost at the scene to find out more from the police. RMPalmer is a big chocolate candy maker and makes a lot of Easter candies. @FOX29philly pic.twitter.com/Jgpjbyt7fN
— Journalist Eddie Kadhim (@KadhimWrites) March 24, 2023
Preliminary theories from officials suggest a gas leak was responsible for the explosion, but investigation and rescue efforts at the plant continue on Saturday. RM Palmer Factory Building #2 is destroyed and Building #1 is damaged.
“It’s quite balanced, unfortunately there’s not much to get out of it. Up front, with the church and the flats, the blast was so big it moved that building a yard forward,” West Reading Mayor Samantha Kaag said. same firefighter.
The area was not evacuated, but Mayor Kaag told residents to stay out of a one-block radius area around the plant site.
Residents of West Reading described hearing – and feeling – the explosion.
“It was the loudest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. It literally felt like the ground was falling under you. The whole house shook and my dogs froze, they couldn’t move, it was scary,” West Reading resident Kristen Wisniewski told ABC Philadelphia affiliate WPVI-TV.
There was some confusion Saturday morning about the number of confirmed deaths.
While the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, based on Berks County figures, said five people were killed, Mayor Kaag and West Reading officials said that figure was inaccurate.
Of the eight people initially hospitalized, five were treated and about to be discharged, two were admitted in “fair condition” and the only other person was transferred to another facility, the Tower Health spokeswoman said. , Jessica Bezler, to the Associated Press.
None of the identities of the victims, whether alive, dead or injured, have yet been released.
RM Palmer has not yet responded to a request for comment. The company was founded in West Reading in 1948 and has been headquartered there ever since.