A devastating explosion at a chocolate factory in Pennsylvania has left seven people dead after two more bodies were discovered in the rubble on Wednesday.
The blast occurred at the Whitehall Chocolate Factory in Whitehall Township, near Allentown, on Tuesday. Two people were initially reported missing after the explosion, but search and rescue teams recovered their bodies on Wednesday.
Local officials said the explosion was caused by a gas leak and the resulting fire destroyed much of the factory. Authorities are continuing to investigate the cause of the blast.
The deceased were identified as William Hall, 55; Jacob Schmoyer, 26; Diane Smith, 53; and four other employees who have not yet been identified.
“This is an incredibly difficult time for the families of these victims as well as for this community,” Lehigh County executive Phillips Armstrong said in a statement. “We are deeply saddened by the loss of life and the devastating impact this tragedy has had on our community.”
The Whitehall Chocolate Factory was a family-owned business that has been operating since the 1950s. The factory was known for its handmade chocolates, which were sold locally and around the world.
This tragedy has left the community in shock and mourning. Local officials and community members have set up a memorial to honor the lives lost and have organized a fundraising event to help the families of the victims.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims during this difficult time.