NATIONAL NEWS

Pennsylvania candy factory explosion leaves at least 2 dead, 5 missing

Mar 25, 2023, 11:23 AM | Updated: 11:36 am

Pennsylsvania candy factory explosion...

A surveillance camera captured this image of emergency response after an explosion occurred in a candy factory in West Reading, PA. (FIRE ALERTS OF BERKS COUNTY)

(FIRE ALERTS OF BERKS COUNTY)

 (CNN) — At least two people are dead and five are unaccounted for following an explosion at a candy factory in eastern Pennsylvania on Friday, CNN affiliate WFMZ reported Saturday, citing local officials.

The explosion occurred at the R.M. Palmer Company facility in West Reading just before 5 p.m., West Reading Police Chief Wayne Holben said in a news conference on Friday night. The cause for the explosion is unknown and remains under investigation, he said.

“There is no danger to the surrounding area at this time,” Holben went on. “However, the borough is urging residents to avoid the area and follow directions of law enforcement and emergency personnel.”

Holben at a news conference Saturday corrected earlier information released by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency which claimed five dead. He also said one person had been rescued alive.

A spokesperson for the Reading Hospital told CNN Saturday that at least eight individuals were hospitalized following the explosion. Of those, one patient had been transferred, two are in fair condition, and five have been discharged.

The hospital sent six ambulances — including their mass casualty incident vehicle — to the scene following the explosion.

The factory building is leveled and there was significant damage from the explosion, according to West Reading Mayor Samantha Kaag.

“There is not too much to salvage from it,” Kaag said.

R.M. Palmer Company is a candy company that launched in 1948 and has been at its current location since 1959, according to the company’s website. The company manufactures seasonal chocolate novelties, like chocolate bunnies for Easter. CNN has reached out to the company for comment.

West Reading Mayor Samantha Kaag said that the explosion “has shaken our community” in a Facebook post on Saturday.

“Our deepest sympathies are with the families and friends of those who have been affected,” she said.

“I hope that the remaining victims are found safe, and that the community can continue to provide support to those affected by this tragedy in the coming days.”

Kaag also asked for “continued cooperation from the public to avoid the area as emergency response workers continue to traverse the difficult task of recovery & assessing damage that will continue throughout the weekend.”

“Please keep them in your prayers as they work tirelessly throughout the night,” she added.

West Reading is about 50 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

CNN has reached out to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency for further details on the casualties.

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Pennsylvania candy factory explosion leaves at least 2 dead, 5 missing