5 dead, 2 missing after Pennsylvania chocolate factory explosion

5 dead, 2 missing after Pennsylvania chocolate factory explosion

A fifth body was recovered from the site of a chocolate factory explosion in a small town in eastern Pennsylvania and two remain unaccounted for Sunday, according to WEST READING, Pa.

West Reading Mayor Samantha Kaag said in an email to the Associated Press that the fifth body was found Sunday morning by first responders and confirmed dead by the Berks County Coroner's Office. The coroner was unable to confirm the identity of the person, Kaag said.

West Reading Borough Chief of Police Wayne Holben confirmed the body of a fourth victim was found under debris early Sunday at R.M. Palmer Co. plant in the borough of West Reading, about 60 miles 96 kilometers northwest of Philadelphia.

Holben asked for continued prayers from the community and vowed that rescuers and officials will not rest until every person affected by the tragedy has been accounted for by the blast that occurred just before 5 p.m. Friday.

Rescue crews have been using heat imaging equipment and dogs to search for survivors after the blast destroyed one building and damaged a neighboring building. The crews were using heavy equipment to methodically and carefully remove debris from the site, Holben said.

The chances of finding survivors was decreasing quickly because of the explosion s force and the amount of time that had passed, according to Chad Moyer, Borough Fire Chief. Kaag said officials were hopeful to get some answers and get some recoveries so that people have that reassurance and that closure. We are trying to hold out to get the right answers, to get the right answers, to get information to those that are affected and then let it go over to the investigation, Kaag said.

Officials said they had no update on the condition of a woman pulled alive from the rubble early Saturday. Kaag said she had apparently been on the second floor and found in a hopeful circumstance, calling out to rescuers despite her injuries after a dog found her.

There were no updates on the conditions of those taken to hospitals, according to officials. Reading Hospital received 10 patients and transferred two to other facilities, while two others were admitted in good and fair condition and the others were discharged.

Palmer said in a statement Saturday afternoon that everyone at the company was devastated and that it was reaching out to employees and their families through first responders and disaster recovery organizations because its communication systems were down.

Kaag, a volunteer firefighter herself, said rescue crews had been working 12 to 16 hour shifts and were so dedicated to continuing the search that you have to pull them away at this point to swap out and get some rest.

Gov. Josh Shapiro visited the site Saturday and vowed support from the state.

Kaag said some residents reported damage to windows from the blast, and she asked people to take a walk around your house and report any damage.

State and local fire investigators are continuing to look at the scene in order to determine the cause of the blast.