"It's a travesty. It's tragic and we feel for them, we feel for the workers, we feel for the owners," said West Reading's mayor.
WEST READING, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- The West Reading community is vowing to help those affected by the fatal R.M. Palmer factory explosion.
The explosion, which happened around 5 p.m. Friday at one of the buildings on 2nd and Penn streets, left two dead and several people injured.
Officials say one person was found alive in the rubble and five more are still missing.
"It's very scary not knowing if someone you love is going to be gone, or is still there after something like this happens," said Kevin Southwood.
Southwood says his aunt works at the factory.
He told Action News he couldn't get a hold of her for hours after the explosion. He later learned she had left work right before it happened and is uninjured.
"As she was leaving, she says she heard the explosion and she could hear her whole body just shake," he recalled.
The chocolate factory, which opened in 1948, employs more than 850 people in West Reading.
People throughout the neighborhood felt the vibrations and watched as one of the borough's biggest employers turned to rubble.
"I heard a huge bang, it felt like a car ran into my house and my door shook so bad," said Kristen Harvey, who lives in the neighborhood near the factory.
"It was terrifying, it really was," said Klint Nieman, who also lives nearby. "They were pulling people, they were looking for people, and you can see the carnage of it. It's horrendous."
Borough officials say R.M. Palmer has been a staple in the community for nearly 75 years.
"Whether it's donating candy for our Easter egg hunt, things like that, they have been an upstanding member of the community," said Philip Wert, vice president of West Reading Borough Council.
Borough, state, and federal crews were back on the scene Saturday.
Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro was among those who visited.
He said in a statement in part, "Our hearts break for the families of those who didn't come home. As West Reading continues to confront this tragedy this morning, the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania stands with this community. We are with you - and my Administration is here to provide all the resources and support West Reading needs."
He added that PEMA, Pennsylvania State Police, and search and rescue squads have been in West Reading since the start of the incident offering aid.
West Reading also says community groups are getting together to offer resources to those affected.
The Berks County Community Foundation and the United Way of Berks County are working on funding to help victims, according to borough officials.
"It's a travesty. It's tragic and we feel for them, we feel for the workers, we feel for the owners. Everybody, our hearts are out with all of them," said Mayor Samantha Kaag.
R.M Palmer Company also released the following statement Saturday afternoon:
"Everyone at RM Palmer is devastated by the tragic events at one of our West Reading facilities and we are focused on supporting our employees and their families. We have lost close friends and colleagues, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of all who have been impacted. We are sincerely grateful for the extraordinary efforts of all of the first responders and for the support of our Reading community, which has been home to our business for more than 70 years. We will continue to coordinate closely with local and national agencies to assist in the recovery process.
We are anxious to be in touch with all employees and the families of employees who have been impacted, but the company's email, phones, and other communication systems are down, and therefore we are relying currently on first responders and disaster recovery organizations to provide any available information to impacted families. We will be providing additional information and making contact with employees, impacted families, and the community as soon as possible."