Federal safety officials are investigating the role of a natural gas pipeline in a deadly explosion at a chocolate factory in Pennsylvania, the National Transportation Safety Board announced Tuesday.
A powerful explosion Friday at the RM Palmer Company in West Reading, a small town 60 miles (96 km) northwest of Philadelphia, killed seven people, took 10 to hospital and several others. Building damaged. The company has had factories for a long time.
The National Transportation Safety Board announced an investigation late Tuesday afternoon, calling the incident a “natural gas” explosion and fire. Officials have preliminary information from local authorities and natural gas utilities that the gas pipeline was involved, Keith Holloway, a spokesman for the agency, told The Associated Press.
Holloway said the NTSB is investigating “what caused the explosion, how and why.”
Other local, state, and federal investigations are underway.
Pennsylvania State Police say “everything is on the table” as firefighters are also trying to determine the origin and cause. Some workers told relatives they smelled natural gas before the explosion. However, gas company UGI said it had not received any reports of gas leaks.
“UGI is cooperating with authorities in their investigation into the incident at RM Palmer,” utility spokesman Joe Swope said late Tuesday. He directed further questions to his NTSB.