A strong explosion at a chocolate factory in Pennsylvania (United States) that occurred this Friday afternoon has left two people dead and five missing, authorities announced this Saturday.
Initially, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency said there were five dead, but later local authorities have assured the AP that they can only confirm two deaths, pending the finding of the missing.
The explosion occurred just before 5 p.m. Friday at the RM Palmer Co. plant in West Reading Township.
Police Chief Wayne Holben said the blast destroyed a building and injured another neighbor.
"It's pretty devastated," Mayor Samantha Kaag said of the site of the explosion, in statements collected by the Associated Press.
"The building in front, with the church and the apartments, the explosion was so big that it displaced that building a meter and a half forward," he added.
The cause of the explosion in the community about 60 miles northwest of Philadelphia is under investigation, Holden told reporters.
Eight people were taken to Reading hospital on Friday night in the same incident, Tower Health spokeswoman Jessica Bezler said.
Two people were admitted in good condition and five were being treated and would be discharged.
One patient was transferred to another center, but Bezler did not provide further details.
Kaag said people were asked to move back about a block in each direction from the blast site, but no evacuations were ordered.
Dean Murray, the West Reading Borough's town manager, said some residents were displaced from the damaged apartment building.
A video broadcast and tweeted by the local Philadelphia station of the FOX network shows the violence of the explosion.
READING EXPLOSION: A massive explosion rocked the Reading skyline on Friday evening, sending debris flying through the air and triggering a multi-alarm fire.
MORE: https://t.co/40KySY3P1Q pic.twitter.com/YrClPxsxZp
— FOX 29 (@FOX29philly) March 24, 2023
Kagg said city officials were not in immediate contact with employees of RM Palmer, which Murray described as "a staple of the city."
The company's website says it has been making "chocolate novelties" since 1948 and now has 850 employees at its West Reading headquarters.
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