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The owners of the West Reading chocolate factory that exploded Friday expressed grief and gratefulness in a statement released Wednesday.
The blast at the R.M. Palmer Co. plant on South Second Avenue claimed the lives of seven people. The explosion happened just before 5 p.m. Friday, and rescue workers worked around the clock over the weekend at the scene, rescuing one survivor from the rubble.
A statement issued Wednesday morning and signed “Richard M. Palmer and family” reads:
My family and I are deeply saddened and heartbroken by the devastating loss of several colleagues and friends as a result of last week’s tragic incident at the West Reading facility.
The seven who we lost will always be in our prayers, and to those who were injured we wish a speedy recovery. Over the many years that we have worked together many became personal friends and all valued members of the Palmer team. Their loss will be felt forever.
We are so grateful for the outpouring of support from the West Reading community, Tower Health, government officials and first responders who have worked tirelessly since the incident occurred. We are also appreciative of the many offers of assistance from fellow members of the confectionery industry.
We send our love and support to the entire Palmer team led by Mark Schlott, who has always worked tirelessly to build “Palmer Strong.”
The cause of the blast has still not been determined. It was announced Monday that state police are heading up the investigation into the cause and origin of the explosion.
The National Transportation Safety Board is also looking into the blast, announcing their involvement in a tweet and indicating that natural gas was the cause.
“The NTSB has opened a safety investigation into the March 24 natural gas explosion and fire at the RM Palmer Company Chocolate factory in West Reading, PA,” the board posted on Twitter Tuesday.
Officials from the NTSB could not immediately be reached.
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