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Search crews found two additional bodies in the rubble of the candy factory in Reading West, Berks County, where a blast occurred on Friday, at the plant of Palmer R.M. Company.

Video below: Complete footage of the press conference held on Sunday evening.

During a news conference on Sunday night, Chief Wayne Holben of the West Reading Borough Police said they believe that all the people who had been reported missing after Friday’s explosion have been found and are safe.

Holben declared that the ongoing inquiry, in conjunction with Pennsylvania State Police, will persist and further information will be furnished as soon as it becomes available.

Mayor Samantha Kaag of West Reading Borough said that three buildings have been condemned as a precautionary measure as they determine to try to move the investigative phase into the devastating explosion.

One journalist inquired Kaag whether they would all have the opportunity to take a brief respite now. She responded:

“I think really for myself, and I think other council members, I think our rest comes with when the families can rest.”.

Authorities have not yet disclosed the identities of the individuals who lost their lives in the blast.

  • TIMELINE: A chronological sequence of the occurrences following the blast.
  • COMPANY STATEMENT: ‘We have experienced the unfortunate loss of dear friends and coworkers.’
  • GOVERNOR VISITS: Governor Josh Shapiro affirms that the state will utilize all available resources.
  • STATEMENT FROM THE MAYOR: The mayor of West Reading extends support to the shaken community.
  • BERKS COUNTY STATEMENT: Officials provide assistance.
  • Video below: WGAL’s Barbara Barr provides coverage from West Reading on Sunday.

    During a previous press briefing, Police Chief Wayne Holben stated, “We will exert every effort within our capabilities to guarantee that we bring resolution to all those implicated. We are wholeheartedly dedicated to this objective, and I want to guarantee all of you that we will not cease our efforts until every individual impacted by this calamity has been acknowledged.”

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    Holben mentioned that the roads in the vicinity would be closed starting from Monday at 8 a.M. A synchronized operation was carried out by the crew and heavy machinery at R.M. Palmer Company search to meticulously sift through the debris.

    Mayor Samantha Kaag stated that the White House contacted West Reading Borough on Saturday to express condolences and offer any necessary assistance.

    A hotline has been set up for individuals in need of assistance. The contact number is 610-374-5224 ext. 529.

    Video: Observe the news conference on Sunday morning in the player below.

    Emergency relief fund

    The Community Foundation of Berks County and United Way of Berks County also announced the creation of West Reading Disaster Recovery Fund.

    Displaced from their homes or workplace or those who have lost loved ones, organizations that are assisting families will be given funds.

    You can contribute at bccf.Org.

    Ryan Lineaweaver, the President of the Borough Council, remarked on the assistance already provided by the community.

    He mentioned, “We have witnessed the absolute best of our tight-knit community. We have seen our community, including partners, businesses, and neighbors, provide water and food, anything that first responders needed. We have even heard stories of neighbors running out of their homes to help before the first responders arrived at the scene.”

    Corporate declaration

    Kaag was requested by R.M. Palmer Company to speak on their behalf during the press briefing.

    The aforementioned statement is as follows:

    On Friday evening, a tragic event occurred at Palmer R.M. In Reading West facilities, which devastated everyone. Our prayers and thoughts are with all those impacted, and we remain focused on supporting their families and our employees. We truly appreciate the tremendous outpouring of support from our local community, and we are grateful for the extraordinary efforts of all emergency personnel and first responders.

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    Video below: Unedited footage from the location.

    Indications of a gas odor

    Diana Cedeno said that her brother was working at the plant at the time of the explosion. Frank Gonzalez stood on a hill overlooking the blast site, watching as the rubble was cleared.

    Gonzalez also mentioned that he heard complaints about a gas smell at the plant. He said that his son quit his job there a few months ago because of it.

    Frank DeJesus stated that on WGAL, there were complaints reported. On Friday, employees at the plant, including his stepdaughter, had expressed their dissatisfaction with the odor of gas.

    Video: View the complete news conference from Saturday night in the player provided.

    It sounded as if an explosive detonated

    Doug Olexy was home from work and checking email when the blast shook his house, rattling windows and making the walls vibrate.

    He remembered Saturday, “It seemed as though an explosive device detonated. Every one of our residences trembled, you know. I’ve never encountered such a deafening blast in all my years.”

    He learned that the institution in West Reading, which he called Palmer Plant, was the one. Initially, Olexy thought it was a train derailment because there are nearby tracks. He and his neighbors immediately ran out onto the street after meeting thick black smoke.

    “Everyone is familiar with Palmer chocolate,” he stated.

    Survivor located

    A canine aided in finding a survivor in the debris during the night between Friday and Saturday.

    Holben stated that currently, employing specific tools and methods to identify indications of existence, the search and rescue personnel are persistently conducting a thorough exploration of the region, instilling optimism that additional individuals might still be discovered, as evidenced by the overnight revelation of life.

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    Officials had no update on the condition of the woman on Sunday.

    Rescuers found her in a hopeful situation and she said she had apparently been on the second floor.

    Kaag expressed, “We are all in this together. I am honored to be your mayor and I am very proud of our community in Reading West, Berks County. I want to thank everyone for their understanding and support during this time.”

    Video below: View the complete news conference from Saturday morning.

    Phil Wert, Vice President of West Reading Borough, expressed, “Fortunately, we were able to find that individual who now has a second opportunity. It was uncertain whether they would survive or perish amidst the chaos and debris, but we discovered someone who was alive. This is the silver lining in all of this.”

    “To obtain a better understanding of the layout of the building, officials had access to our archive to retrieve the blueprints from the late 1950s and 1960s, which indicated that the utilities, mechanicals, and overall structure of the building were constructed during that time period,” Wert also mentioned.

    Officials from the West Reading borough are advising residents in need of information regarding the incident to reach out to the West Reading Police Department at 610-373-0111.

    Video below: Holben discusses the search for survivors.

    In addition to the extensive assets that have already been deployed, the Commonwealth has vowed to provide ongoing support and resources for recovery efforts. Governor Josh Shapiro, along with the director of the emergency management agency, visited the site on Saturday.

    Proclamation of a State of Emergency

    Kaag issued an emergency proclamation to gather resources.

    She stated, “persevere, persist in your endeavors to save and search. It is imperative that emergency responders have increased access to additional resources at the scene. I would like to directly address safety concerns for the residents of the borough.”

    Unless prolonged by the council, Kaag’s initial proclamation is valid for only a week. The borough council will convene on Tuesday evening to decide on the extension of the emergency declaration.

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