At least four people died Wednesday when tornadoes swept through parts of Massachusetts.

Tornadoes tore through Western and Central Massachusetts yesterday, killing at least four people, injuring an untold number and reducing schools, churches and homes to splinters along its destructive path.

Governor Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency throughout Massachusetts and ordered up to 1,000 troops from the National Guard to help with rescue efforts. He said at least 19 communities had reported damage and he asked officials in those towns and cities to close schools and keep nonemergency personnel home today to allow work crews to clear streets.

“We are in an emergency situation,” said the Governor in a news conference at the state’s emergency management headquarters in Framingham. He said there had been reports of looting in Springfield and he described the damage from the storm as extensive.

“We are hoping and praying and working as hard as possible to keep the fatalities limited to those four already confirmed,” he said.

Two of the deaths occurred in West Springfield, one in Springfield and one in Brimfield, officials said. State Police said 33 people were injured in Springfield alone, including five seriously, in a storm that rapidly spread darkened skies across the state.

In Monson, residents described widespread damage that made the Central Massachusetts town look like it had been bombed. On some streets there appeared to be as many trees fallen as were still standing.

“There’s got to be 10 to 20 houses that are just completely gone,’’ said Heather M. Dickinson, 39, a resident who waited out the storm on her porch.

She said two churches in the small town had their steeples blown off and roofs had been torn off municipal buildings. She said the supermarket on Main Street was “wiped out’’ and several cars had been flipped over by the strong winds.

Click the next page to take a look at the aftermath of the tornado.

(SOURCE)

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