Pennsylvania chocolate factory explosion leaves five dead and six missing

West Reading Mayor Samantha Kaag praised the first responders for their swift action.

Updated: March 25, 2023 - 12:44pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

An explosion at a chocolate factory in Pennsylvania killed at least five people, and authorities were searching Saturday for six missing workers. 

The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency confirmed the number of deaths Saturday morning at the R.M. Palmer Co. plant in the borough of West Reading.

Tower Health spokeswoman Jessica Bezler said that eight people were taken to Reading Hospital Friday evening after the explosion. 

Authorities are currently investigating the cause of the explosion. A spokesperson from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency told the Associated Press that a gas leak could have been the cause.

West Reading Mayor Samantha Kaag praised the first responders in comments to the Reading Eagle.

"A lot of the community came together — it was a lot of different companies that were there, a lot of different officers, our neighbors, the Reading police department and all of the firefighters that came together," Kaag said to the local outlet.

"It was a lot of people that knew what they were doing and they were getting their hands in there and they were getting it taken care of and handled," her statement continued. "It was surprising how fast the response time was.” 

This candy factory is most well known for making seasonal candies such as Easter bunnies and is one of America's largest and most innovative confectioners.

The factory's website states it has been open since 1948 and it has about 850 employees at its headquarters in West Reading.

This is a developing story.