An explosion occurred around 5 pm on Friday at the historic R.M Palmer Co. factory, killing 7 people and leaving at least 10 others injured.
In West Reading, Pennsylvania, about 60 miles northwest of Philadelphia, a chocolate factory exploded and resulted in a tragic death toll. This is still an ongoing investigation, as authorities have yet to determine the cause of this occurrence. Police have not released the names or any further details about the victims, just that there were 7 casualties and at least 10 people injured.
Residents of the area described the incident saying “It sounded like a bomb went off, I mean, all of our houses shook. I’ve never heard as loud of an explosion in my life.” The explosion was so massive that it reportedly leveled one building and damaged another nearby. Along with trying to understand what caused the blast, police are also working hard to figure out how to prevent this from happening again in the future.
A medical supply building, an apartment building, and a church that are located near the site of the blast have been condemned until further notice, Kaag stated. To continue this investigation, the street where the explosion occurred will remain closed until they deem it to be safe enough to re-open.
Sunday night, Samantha Kaag, Mayor of West Reading, put out a statement on Twitter saying “Tonight, we were able to announce that all seven presumptive missing have been found. Please understand that this is still a devastating loss but we are truly grateful to bring closure to the families involved in the upcoming days.” She also mentioned that the identities of the victims will not be released until all of the family members have been notified.
The Chocolate factory company also released a statement on Sunday. “Everyone at RM Palmer is devastated by the tragic events at one of our West Reading facilities and we are focused on supporting our employees and their families. We have lost close friends and colleagues, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of all who have been impacted. We are sincerely grateful for the extraordinary efforts of all of the first responders and for the support of our Reading community, which has been home to our business for more than 70 years. We will continue to coordinate closely with local and national agencies to assist in the recovery process.”
The city plans to host a candlelight vigil on Friday, March 31st, at 7:30 pm to honor the lives lost in the tragedy and show support to their loved ones in this time of grief.