Death Toll Uncertain After A Major Palmer Candy Factory Explosion

On March 24, around 5:00 in the evening, tragedy struck an R.M. Palmer factory famous for making chocolate candy, as well as chocolate Easter bunnies, in West Reading, Pennsylvania. According to Fox News, firefighters arrived on the scene after reports were made about a multi-alarm fire and explosive noises. R.M. Palmer, which was founded in 1948, employs around 850 people at its headquarters in West Reading. However, it's unclear how many employees were working inside the factory at the time of the explosion.

Initial reports stated that five were killed, but the death toll as of March 26, per CNN, was three, with an additional four employees missing. Six ambulances were also sent to the scene, and at least one person was rescued from the building. An additional eight are currently hospitalized at Reading Hospital and of those eight, one was transferred, five have been discharged, and two remaining there are in fair condition.

Too dangerous for the public to approach

The massive and shocking explosion was caught on camera and the damage leveled the building. While the surrounding buildings of the factory are stable, the mayor of Reading, Samantha Kaag, issued a state of emergency, via a press conference shared by ABC 6, to allow for more resources and immediate aid. As noted by CNN, the public has been advised by Reading Police Chief Wayne Holben to stay away from the factory as first responders on the scene continued through Saturday to make their way through the rubble.

Unfortunately, with more time passing post-explosion, the chances of finding more survivors are dwindling. For those whose family, friends, or other loved ones are employees at the R.M. Palmer factory, the company has issued a statement on their website, alerting everyone that their internal communications systems, including phone and email, are down. 

The official cause of the explosion is still unknown and under investigation.