WEST READING, Pa. (AP) — The seven bodies of victims of a massive explosion at a chocolate factory in a small town in eastern Pennsylvania have been recovered, officials said.
West Reading Mayor Samantha Kaag said in a statement late Sunday that the names of none of the deceased will not be released until authorities are certain all families have been notified.RELATED
“Please understand that this is a devastating loss, but we are truly grateful to be able to bring closure to the families involved in the coming days,” Kaag said.
Police Chief Wayne Holben told reporters shortly after 9 p.m. that rescuers had found the bodies earlier that afternoon and they are believed to be the two missing individuals who had been reported missing earlier in the night. working day. Their identities will be confirmed by the Berks County coroner’s office, he said.
One of the victims was found around 6:50 p.m., and the other at around 8:20 p.m., Holben added. This brings the total number of dead to seven.
Kaag previously confirmed to The Associated Press that the fifth body was found Sunday morning by rescuers, and the Berks County coroner confirmed it was dead. The coroner could not confirm the identity of that person, Kaag added.
Holben had previously confirmed finding a fourth body under the rubble of the RM Palmer Co. factory in West Reading, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of Philadelphia.
Holben asked the population to continue praying and promised that the rescuers and agents “will not rest until they determine the whereabouts of each person affected by this tragedy”, caused by the explosion on Friday at 5 in the afternoon.
Rescuers have been using thermal imaging equipment and dogs to try to find possible survivors of the blast that destroyed one building and damaged another. Crews were removing the debris with heavy machinery, Holben said.
Fire Chief Chad Meyer said late Saturday that the chance of finding survivors was “decreasing rapidly” due to the force of the explosion and the time elapsed.
Kaag said authorities “hope to get some answers and get some ransoms to comfort people and give them comfort.”
Officials said they did not know the status of a woman pulled alive from the rubble Saturday morning. Kaag added that she was apparently on the second floor and was found in “hopeful circumstances.” A dog found her and rescuers extracted it from her.
Authorities said they had no updates on the status of those who were hospitalized. Reading hospital said it had received 10 injured and transferred two to other facilities. Two others were in good and fair condition, respectively, and the rest were discharged.
State and local firefighters are still surveying the scene to try to determine the cause of the explosion.