Federal safety investigators are checking a natural gas pipeline for fractures and other damage as they gather clues about last week’s cause. Deadly explosion at a Pennsylvania chocolate factory, its spokesperson said Wednesday.
The National Transportation Safety Board has opened an investigation into the explosion Friday at the RM Palmer Company that killed seven people, injured several others and flattened the building in West Riding, a small town about 50 miles away. Northwest Philadelphia. Publishing the names of the victims, the forensic office said that autopsies tentatively revealed that all seven had died of blast injuries.
Federal investigators said natural gas was involved in the explosion.
“The NTSB continues to collect evidence on how the natural gas was supplied to the building and the point of ignition, interview witnesses, examine the pipeline for fractures, any damage to the pipeline, and the timeline of events leading up to the explosion, among other things,” it said. Agency spokesperson Keith Holloway via email Wednesday “Come on as the investigation continues.”
He said the initial report on the explosion could be available in about three weeks, while the final report could take up to two years. The Pennsylvania State Police is also investigating the cause.
Some workers told their relatives that they smelled natural gas before the explosion, although the gas utility, UGI, said it had not received any reports of a gas leak. UGI said it is cooperating with the investigation.
The family that owns the candy company said in a statement Wednesday that the loss of its employees “will be felt forever.”
“My family and I are deeply saddened and heartbroken by the terrible loss of so many colleagues and friends as a result of the tragic accident last week at our West Riding facility,” the statement from Richard Palmer Jr. and his family read.
the Berks County Coroner’s Office On Wednesday, the identities of five of the people killed were released: Xiorky D. Nunez, 30, of Reading; Susan H. Halfonic, 63, of Upper Providence; Brady, 62, of Marion County; Diana M. Sydno, 44, of Reading; and Judith Lopez Moran, 55, of Reading.
The names of the other two dead, Amy S. Sandu, 49, from Ephrata, and Domingo Cruz, 60, from Reading.
All seven victims appear to have died from injuries from the blast, Berks County Coroner John Fielding told a news conference. He said the method of death is pending further investigations by other agencies.