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MA twisters devastate homes

Governor declares state of emergency after at least 5 tornadoes touch-down in nearly 20 communities.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (UPI) | June 1, 2011

At least five tornadoes struck Massachusetts Wednesday, killing at least one person, injuring others and causing widespread damage, officials said.

WVCB-TV, Boston, said twisters were confirmed in Springfield, Wilbraham, Westfield, Monson and Oxford. Beginning about 4:30 p.m. EDT, other unconfirmed tornadoes were called in by storm spotters and residents in West Springfield, Agawam, Charlton, Millbury, Palmer and Sturbridge, the TV station said.

The Boston Globe reported at least 19 communities were affected, prompting Gov. Deval Patrick to announce he was declaring a state of emergency and mobilizing 1,000 National Guard troops.

The governor said there were "many injuries" and that he had heard from media reports there had been one fatality when winds overturned a car in West Springfield, the Globe said.

"To see the debris falling out of the sky -- it's indescribable. A lot of us were standing there screaming. It is something that you don't see on a daily basis," one Springfield woman told WVCB-TV.

The TV station said some buildings in downtown Springfield were heavily damaged.

Houses were reported destroyed and roofs were reported ripped off in Monson, where injuries also were reported, WVCB said.

About 50,000 customers were without power statewide as of 8 p.m. EDT.

The governor said state Sen. Stephen Brewer of Barre told him "you have to see Monson to believe it, and I think he made a reference to the Wizard of Oz, as well."

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