Pa. Gov. Josh Shapiro traveled to West Reading, Pa., on Saturday, March 25,2023 to survey the scene of a candy factory explosion and to meet with local leaders (Commonwealth of Pa. photo).
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro ordered state flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of seven people killed in an explosion at a chocolate factory in West Reading on Friday.
The Democratic governor’s order, announced Monday, remains in effect until March 31, the administration said in a statement.
On Monday, officials released the names of two people who died in the incident at the R.M. Palmer Co. on Friday. The Berks County coroner’s office said Amy S. Sandoe, 49, of Ephrata, and Domingo Cruz, 60, of Reading were killed in the blast, the Reading Eagle reported.
The explosion occurred just before 5 p.m. on Friday. Rescue crews worked through the weekend, pulling a single survivor from the rubble early on Saturday morning, the newspaper reported. The last of the seven victims was discovered around 8:20 p.m. on Sunday.
Shapiro, joined by Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Director Randy Padfield, visited the blast site on Saturday. He met with West Reading Mayor Samantha Kaag and local officials, pledging state resources for the recovery effort, the administration said in a statement.
“Our hearts break for the families of those who didn’t come home. As West Reading continues to confront this tragedy … the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania stands with this community,” Shapiro said. “We are with you – and my Administration is here to provide all the resources and support West Reading needs.”
The administration said PEMA, along with the Pennsylvania State Police, worked to coordinate the mutual aid response and requests for resources. In addition, a team of structural engineers and K-9s from Pennsylvania’s Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue, as well as a state police fire marshal, were dispatched to the blast site to aid in search and rescue operations.
The administration also contacted local, state, and federal officials about the incident and recovery efforts, Shapiro’s office said.
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