3 Dead, 4 Missing in Chocolate Factory Explosion in Pennsylvania

By Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly is a senior reporter for the Epoch Times. She covers U.S. news and world news. Contact her at mimi.nl@epochtimes.com
March 25, 2023Updated: March 26, 2023

Three people are dead and four people are missing after an explosion took place Friday afternoon at a chocolate factory in Pennsylvania.

The explosion took place at 4:57 p.m. at the R.M. Palmer Co. plant in West Reading, about 60 miles (96 km) northwest of Philadelphia.

It sent black smoke and debris into the air, video captured by Fox affiliate WTXF showed.

The blast destroyed a building at the facility and damaged a neighboring building.

The cause of the explosion is under investigation, West Reading Borough Police Department Chief of Police Wayne Holben told a press conference Friday. He added that officials have ruled out a continuing danger to the area.

Holben said at the time that at least two people died and nine others were missing. Several others were injured, he added. West Reading Borough Chief of Police Wayne Holben said the death toll rose on Saturday with the discovery of a third body at the site.

The Berks County Medical Examiner and Coroner on Saturday night also confirmed three fatalities.

Borough Fire Chief Chad Moyer said four people remained missing as emergency personnel continue searching for victims and state and local fire investigators examine the scene to determine a cause.

Residents were advised to avoid the area of the factory.

Reading Hospital said Saturday afternoon it had received 10 patients, of which one was transferred to Lehigh Valley Hospital and another to Penn State Health St. Joseph Medical Center. Two were admitted to Reading Hospital in good and fair condition, respectively, and the others had been discharged, officials said.

Hours following the blast, debris could be seen piled in the street, and at least one fire was still burning, video from NBC affiliate WGAL showed.

Berks County fire crews remained on the scene Friday night.

R.M. Palmer Company says on its website it has been making candy since 1948, specializing in seasonal items for Easter, Halloween, and Valentine’s Day. It employs 850 people.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Update: The death toll was revised according to an official update on March 25.