Five people are dead, and six are missing after a chocolate factory exploded in West Reading, Pennsylvania.
Eight people were injured in the blast, which took place just before 5 p.m. at the RM Palmer Co plant on Friday.
🚨#BREAKING: Multiple injuries and people trapped after a Major explosion at a Chocolate Factory
📌#WestReading | #PA
Currently Numerous Emergency crews and response teams are responding to a 3-alarm fire with a Massive explosion at a RM Palmer chocolate company in West… pic.twitter.com/9EHqNHJbKT
— R A W S A L E R T S (@rawsalerts) March 24, 2023
One of the factory’s buildings and a neighboring property were destroyed.
A powerful explosion occurred at the RM Palmer chocolate factory in the U.S. state of #Pennsylvania.
The exact number of dead and injured is not yet known. pic.twitter.com/tjLmiRPXBz
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) March 25, 2023
West Reading Borough Mayor Samantha Kaag said, “the building in the front, with the church and the apartments — the explosion was so big that it moved that building four feet forward.”
According to a report from WFMZ, officials say the explosion was followed by a fire and then a second explosion.
The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency said a gas leak might have caused the explosion, but that was not confirmed by early Saturday morning.
This video is from my house, less than a half a mile from Palmer’s Chocolate Factory. Absolutely heartbroken for the victims of the explosion. 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/th0V6B45xG
— BasedIn410 (@Based_In410) March 24, 2023
Wayne Holden, chief of the West Reading Police Department, said during a press conference that while there is no danger to those nearby, he is asking people to avoid the area while rescue efforts continue.
Here’s video of an explosion at the RM Palmer Chocolate Factory in West Reading, PA. pic.twitter.com/fhVDkMYeIC
— Chad Baker (@ChadBlue83) March 25, 2023
Palmer has been a staple of Easter candy since 1948.
“Today, 850 dedicated employees design, produce, package and ship more than 500 unique products from Palmer’s headquarters in West Reading, Pa. – making it one of America’s largest and most innovative confectioners,” Palmer’s website says.