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An explosion at a candy factory in Pennsylvania leaves at least 2 dead, others remain missing

CNN  — 

At least two people are dead and nine are unaccounted for following an explosion at a candy factory in eastern Pennsylvania on Friday, officials said.

The explosion occurred at the R.M. Palmer Company facility in West Reading just before 5 p.m., West Reading Police Chief Wayne Holben said in a press conference on Friday night. The cause for the explosion is unknown and remains under investigation, he said.

“There is no danger to the surrounding area at this time, however the borough is urging residents to avoid the area and follow directions of law enforcement and emergency personnel,” Holben added.

At least eight individuals have been hospitalized following the explosion – of those, one patient has been transferred, two are in fair condition and the other five will be discharged, a spokesperson for Reading Hospital told CNN.

The hospital sent six ambulances – including their mass casualty incident vehicle – to the scene following the explosion.

Rescue efforts will continue throughout the night, Holben said.

The factory building is leveled and there was significant damage from the explosion, according to West Reading Mayor Samantha Kaag.

“There is not too much to salvage from it,” Kaag said.

R.M. Palmer Company is a candy company that was started in 1948 and has been at its current location since 1959, according to the company’s website. CNN has reached out to the company for comment.

West Reading is about 50 miles northwest of Philadelphia.