A deadly explosion at a Eastern Pennsylvania chocolate factory Friday night killed five people, injured eight others and left nearby buildings and homes damaged and destroyed.
Meanwhile, a search continued Saturday morning for at least a half-dozen people still missing after the blast, officials said.
West Reading Borough Police Department Chief of Police Wayne Holben said the explosion took place just before 5 p.m. at the R.M. Palmer Co. plant in West Reading.
Officials on Saturday continued to investigate what caused the explosion at the plant about 60 miles northwest of Philadelphia.
The identities of the dead, injured and missing were not immediately known.
The blast on Friday at 4:57 p.m. sent a plume of black smoke into the air and resulted in the destruction, Holben said, of a building at the facility and damage to a neighboring building.
Holden was asking people to avoid the area of the factory on Saturday.
Photos from the scene early Saturday showed smoke rising from the plant as firefighters remained on scene searching for survivors.
“It’s pretty leveled,” Mayor Samantha Kaag said of the explosion site. “The building in the front, with the church and the apartments, the explosion was so big that it moved that building four feet forward.”
Kaag said people were asked to move back about a block in each direction from the site of the explosion but no evacuations were ordered.
Eight taken to hospitals
Two people were admitted in fair condition and five were being treated and would be released, she told The Associated Press in an email. One patient was transferred to another facility, but Bezler provided no further details.
West Reading Borough manager Dean Murray said some residents were displaced from a damaged apartment building.
Kagg said borough officials were not in immediate contact with officials from R.M. Palmer, which Murray described as “a staple of the borough.”
According to the company’s website, the plant has been making “chocolate novelties” since 1948 and now has 850 employees at its West Reading headquarters.
Contributing: Associated Press