4 Reported Dead After Tornadoes In Mass.

By: AP/CBS
By: AP/CBS

(CBS/AP) SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Massachusetts officials say four people are dead after at least two tornadoes swept through western and central parts of the state.

Scott MacLeod, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, confirmed the deaths Wednesday night but said there were no details about the circumstances.

He said two people died in Westfield, one in West Springfield and one in the town of Brimfield.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has declared a state of emergency and has called up 1,000 National Guard troops following what he said were two damaging tornadoes that swept through the state.

Patrick took the action after heavy damage was reported Wednesday in several communities, including many in Western Massachusetts. Patrick met with officials from the state police, state fire marshal's office, National Guard and other emergency and public safety agencies.

Patrick says there are reports of one fatality in West Springfield but state officials can't immediately confirm that.

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal's district includes Springfield. He says he's spoken with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He says inspectors from the agency will be reviewing storm damage Thursday.

Jane Albert, media supervisor For Baystate Medical, tells CBS news that at least 10 patients have been admitted with trauma injuries from the tornado. Many other patients with minor injuries are waiting to be admitted to triage.

Other communities in western Massachusetts also may have sustained damage from the storm that hit Springfield on Wednesday. Tornado warnings are in effect and residents have been told to stay indoors.

Mayor Domenic Sarno's spokesman Thomas Walsh says there are no reports of deaths.

Walsh says he saw a spinning cloud of debris from a window at City Hall when the apparent tornado hit. He later saw uprooted trees downtown.

Utilities are reporting thousands of customers without power. The city has requested help from the National Guard.

Walsh told The Associated Press he was looking out his City Hall window around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday when he saw a "massive cloud of debris" floating in a circle.

"You could see things were coming," Deborah McCarthy, who witnessed the tornado in Springfield from inside an office building, told CBS station WBZ in Boston. "Trees were starting to snap around us and the windows smashed on the upper floors. You can see cars flipped over, too."

Video footage from WWLP-TV shows a debris-filled funnel roaring through the downtown area. The television station reported heavy damage in the city's South End section.

Walsh said trees were uprooted downtown and city officials rushed to the basement when the danger became apparent. The TV footage shows vehicles overturned.

Earlier, the National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for much of the East Coast, including Philadelphia, New York and Boston.

The watch area stretches from Maine to Pennsylvania and is in effect until 8 p.m. A watch means conditions are favorable for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms.

The Weather Service says thunderstorms with 70 mph wind gusts and dangerous lightning are possible. There also could be hail measuring about 2 inches in diameter.

The threat of severe weather comes after a stretch of several days of unseasonable heat. Temperatures have soared into the 90s in spots.


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