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Springfield Mass. Tornado Victims







Tornadoes Tear Through Mass. Leaving Four Dead, Dozens Injured


PHOTO: Bricks and debris that fell from a building lay on top of cars after a tornado touched down in Springfield, Mass. on June 1, 2011.


Multiple tornadoes slammed western and central Massachusetts Wednesday, leaving a path of destruction that destroyed buildings, flipped vehicles and left at least four people dead and an unknown number injured.

At least three tornadoes struck the city of Springfield, Mass., alone, with a fourth unconfirmed twister possibly touching down in the city, Mayor Dominic J. Sarno said. Many of those storms also blasted the areas surrounding the city of more than 150,000 residents situated 90 miles west of Boston.

According to the National Weather Service, there were seven reports of tornadoes touching down in Massachusetts Wednesday.

The twisters hit as unstable weather threatened the entire Northeast, bringing tornado watches to Philadelphia, New York and Boston. Golf Ball size hail was reported from New York to Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire, while thunderstorms produced wind gusts from 60 to 70 miles per hour across New England.

The situation in Massachusetts was so bad that Gov. Deval Patrick declared a statewide state of emergency, calling up 1,000 members of the National Guard.

Two of the four fatalities in Massachusetts occurred in West Springfield, and there was one each in Springfield and Brimfield, a state official said, correcting earlier official statements.

Sources also disagreed on the number and location of confirmed tornado touch-downs in the state.

Patrick said early Wednesday evening that at least 19 Massachusetts communities were affected by rough weather and an unspecified number of twisters.

"Motorists should be off the roads," Patrick said. "There are downed limbs, downed wires."

An 80-member FEMA task force will be deployed in West Springfield beginning today.

Springfield officials were doing house-to-house checks on residents. Local and state officials hoped to do a fuller damage assessment on the affected regions in the morning daylight.

"With 19 communities affected, I can't imagine, given what we're hearing about some of the reports of damage, that there will not be federal assistance," said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.