On Friday, an explosion occurred at the RM Palmer Company on South Second Avenue in West Reading, resulting in the death of five individuals and multiple hospitalizations.
As of now, six people remain unaccounted for. Seven individuals were taken to local hospitals, and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency provided an update on the number of fatalities on Saturday morning.
Rail traffic in the area has resumed, but with a speed restriction of 5 mph. Recovery efforts are ongoing on Saturday to locate the missing individuals.
West Reading Mayor Samantha Kaag witnessed the situation at RM Palmer Company, a chocolate factory that has been in operation since 1948 and employed 850 people.
According to West Reading Mayor Samantha Kaag, the damage caused by the explosion was significant, with one building of the company destroyed and an apartment building and church also sustaining damage.
Kaag described the scene as pretty scary and stated that it’s pretty leveled. However, despite the destruction, officials have reassured that there is no need for neighbors to be concerned about their own safety.
Police Chief Wayne Holben confirmed that there is no danger. Crews responded to the blaze at the chocolate factory, and this was the situation on the ground.
West Reading Mayor Samantha Kaag confirmed that there are no evacuation orders in place despite the explosion at RM Palmer Company on Friday.
The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency reported earlier on Friday that six people were injured, seven are still missing, and six people received medical attention. UGI officers were present with first responders at the scene.
Mayor Kaag expressed gratitude for the swift and cooperative response of the community to the tragedy. She also mentioned that many of the affected individuals have been taken care of.
As of Friday night, there was no communication with anyone from RM Palmer, and the investigation into the cause of the explosion is ongoing.
The search and rescue operation are still in progress, with nine individuals remaining unaccounted for.
The apartment building residents have been displaced, and it’s unclear when they will be able to return home.
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