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Thursday
Jun022011

Tornadoes Tear Through Mass. Leaving Four Dead, Dozens Injured

Springfield Falcons(SPRINGFIELD, Mass.) -- 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 which is 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.

Peter Judge, from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) told ABC News that as of early Thursday morning there were about 50,000 without power.

"There is some very serious damage -- we're aware of city blocks that aren't there anymore, homes that have lost roofs," Judge said.

"It was obviously an incredible surprise...we'd been monitoring the weather all day and by early afternoon nobody was overly concerned...but by late afternoon some storm clouds started to appear," he added.

Wednesday's tornadoes were the worst outbreak in the state since 1953, when 94 people were killed by a tornado in central Massachusetts. The state's last lethal tornado was in 1995.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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