HomeNewsDeath Toll Continues to Rise in Aftermath of Pennsylvania Chocolate Factory Explosion

Death Toll Continues to Rise in Aftermath of Pennsylvania Chocolate Factory Explosion

by TK Sanders

Emergency crews continue to find more bodies at the site of the devastating R.M. chocolate factory explosion site, bringing the heartbreaking death toll up to seven.

West Reading Mayor Samantha Kaag released a statement Sunday announcing the discovery of the two latest bodies. The only good news to come of the development is that all workers are now accounted for, and that no more bodies remain in the rubble. Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro is also offering aid. Authorities are withholding the names of the victims at this point.

“Tonight we were able to announce that all seven presumptive missing have been found. Please understand that this is still a devastating loss,” she wrote. “But we are truly grateful to bring closure to the families involved in the upcoming days.”

Early on Sunday morning, rescue workers discovered a fifth body after initially declaring three missing in addition to four known deceased. The final two discovered bodies brought the death toll up to seven. At least 10 workers also suffered injuries, some of which required hospitalizations.

“We did not and will not announce any names of the identified victims until we know for certain that their family has been contacted. They [need] time to process, and to reach out to other loved ones to let those close to them know,” a statement from the mayor read.

The mayor also informed the press that the city will condemn three other buildings in the vicinity in order to better investigate the origins of the explosion.

Mayor Kaag continues trying to rally the community in the aftermath of the chocolate factory explosion

“This does not mean [those buildings] are slated for demolition or uninhabitable. It simply means that there will still be work happening around them as we proceed. They will need to be looked at further by structural engineers before being released,” the statement continued. Streets around the blast site also remain closed for the time being.

The  community will hold a candlelight vigil for the victims at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, March 31.

“We are still working diligently behind the scenes. Please utilize us for resources if you were affected. I truly mean it when I say I am so proud of the community, the county, and I am so honored to be the Mayor of West Reading,” Mayor Kaag said on social media. She added: “The investigation efforts will now be underway and we can find answers to how this happened and how/if we can prevent it from happening in the future.”

Kaag also asked for patience as the investigation runs its course.

“Please be patient and respectful as we work with the county to get the families information, closure, and resources. For now, and the foreseeable future,” she said. “As I said tonight, this is just the beginning as the investigation efforts start. Elected officials will work to get resources for the victims’ families, emergency crews, and the borough. We will continue to work diligently to get in contact with families on a personal level. And provide to them, and anyone affected, resources. I think I speak for everyone around me when I say that we will rest when the families can rest.”