Rescue workers combed the rubble of a historic Pennsylvania chocolate factory early Saturday after an overnight explosion at the plant left five people dead and six others missing.
One person was found alive in the debris after the massive explosion Friday night leveled the R. M. Palmer Co. headquarters in West Reading, NBC Philadelphia reported.
Eight others were taken to Reading Hospital, where two were admitted in “fair” condition and one was transferred. The others will be discharged, according to the hospital.
Clips of the aftermath of the explosion showed bricks, windows and other pieces of the factory strewn through the street as smoke continued to smolder from the remnants of the building.
“It’s pretty leveled, unfortunately, there’s not too much to be able to salvage from it,” Samantha Kaag, the mayor and a local firefighter told WPVI. “In the front, with the church and the apartments, the explosion was so big that it moved that building four feet forward.”
No residents were evacuated, but the mayor asked those within one block of the blast to avoid the area.
The cause of the explosion is currently under investigation but is believed to be the result of a gas leak.
Kristen Wisniewski lives three blocks from the well-known chocolate company.
“It was the loudest thing I’ve ever heard in my life,” she told 6ABC. “It literally felt like the ground fell out from underneath you.
“The whole house shook and my dogs froze, they couldn’t move, it was scary.”
Officials said there is no danger to the community, which is about 60 miles northwest of Philadelphia.
The R.M. Palmer Company was founded in 1948. With 850 employees, it’s one of the country’s largest confectioners and is known for its seasonal products, particularly a wide array of handcrafted Easter bunnies.
The company describes the Easter bunny “Baby Binks” as the first product its founder sold to a local chain, garnering a $20,000 order for the treat that helped get the company off the ground.
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