A fourth person was confirmed dead and three people remained unaccounted for two days after an explosion at a chocolate factory in a small town in Pennsylvania.
West Reading Borough chief of police Wayne Holben confirmed that the body of a fourth victim had been found under debris early on Sunday at the RM Palmer plant in the borough of West Reading, about 60 miles (96km) northwest of Philadelphia.
Mr Holben asked for continued prayers from the community and vowed that rescuers and officials “will not rest until every single person affected by this tragedy has been accounted for” from the blast that occurred just before 5pm on Friday.
Rescue crews have been using dogs and imaging equipment to search for people under the rubble.
Borough Fire Chief Chad Moyer said: “Due to the violence of the explosion and the amount of time that has passed, the chance of finding survivors is decreasing rapidly.
“However, please be assured that our primary goal is accounting for all missing individuals and reuniting them with their loved ones.”
Authorities said one person was pulled alive from the rubble overnight, which “provides hope that others still may be found”.
Roads near the site have also been closed until 8am on Monday.
Chocolate factory explosion kills two people, with five more missing
A gas and electric company, UGI Utilities, has said crews were brought in after the blast caused a gas leak that was helping to fuel the fire.
“We did not receive any calls regarding a gas leak or gas order prior to the incident, but we are co-operating with the investigation and part of that will be to check all our facilities in the vicinity,” UGI spokesman Joseph Swope said.
Governor Josh Shapiro said resources would be provided “to support ongoing recovery efforts – in addition to the extensive assets that have already been deployed”.
He said a team of structural engineers and search dogs from a state urban rescue task force have been assisting.
‘Devastated by the tragic events’
In a statement on Saturday, RM Palmer said that everyone at the company was “devastated by the tragic events” and “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,” a spokesman said.