Chocolate Factory Explosion Kills 7 in Pennsylvania: 'A Devastating Loss'

The explosion on Friday afternoon, which also resulted in 10 other people being injured, leveled one building and severely damaged another in West Reading, about 60 miles northwest of Philadelphia

Photo by Michael Rubinkam/AP/Shutterstock
Photo by Michael Rubinkam/AP/Shutterstock

Authorities are working to determine the cause of an explosion at a Pennsylvania chocolate factory that left seven people dead.

The incident occurred at the historic R.M. Palmer Co. factory just before 5 p.m. on Friday in West Reading, about 60 miles northwest of Philadelphia. It leveled one building and damaged another nearby, reported Associated Press.

A medical supply building, a church and an apartment building in the immediate area have also been condemned as a result of the blast, West Reading Mayor Samantha Kaag said on Twitter late Sunday.

Kaag added that local authorities are now trying to pinpoint the cause of the explosion and how they "can prevent it from happening in the future."

"Tonight, we were able to announce that all seven presumptive missing have been found," Kaag revealed on Twitter about the tragic death toll from the incident. "Please understand that this is still a devastating loss but we are truly grateful to bring closure to the families involved in the upcoming days."

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Police have not released the identities of the victims, Kaag added. At least 10 others were injured in the explosion, a local hospital confirmed to NBC10 Philadelphia.

Residents described a massive explosion, saying it sent shockwaves throughout the community. "It sounded like a bomb went off," Doug Olexy told NBC10. "I mean, all of our houses shook. I've never heard as loud of an explosion in my life."

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Photo by Michael Rubinkam/AP/Shutterstock
Photo by Michael Rubinkam/AP/Shutterstock

Related:At Least 13 Hospitalized, 1 Dead After Factory Explosion in Ohio

On Sunday, the chocolate maker released a statement regarding the tragedy.

"Everyone at RM Palmer is devastated by the tragic events at one of our West Reading facilities and we are focused on supporting our employees and their families," the company said. "We have lost close friends and colleagues, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of all who have been impacted."

"We are sincerely grateful for the extraordinary efforts of all of the first responders and for the support of our Reading community, which has been home to our business for more than 70 years," the company added. "We will continue to coordinate closely with local and national agencies to assist in the recovery process."

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