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Seven remained at the hospital Thursday, including a woman whose liver was lacerated when a building collapsed on her.

Police and National Guard troops went door to door in Springfield to check for any residents who were injured or otherwise needed help. The police chief confirmed reports of looting and other crimes, but no arrests were made.

Tens of thousands remained without power in the region.

Given the extent of damage, Patrick, who joined Kerry and Sen. Scott Brown for an aerial tour of the devastation, said it was remarkable there weren’t more deaths.

While two or three tornadoes hit Massachusetts on average every year, they’re usually weak and rarely strike heavily populated areas.

That may explain why the twisters caught people by surprise, said Stephen Frasier, a University of Massachusetts professor who has chased tornadoes across the Great Plains.

“Two things happened: This was bigger than the average tornado that hits Massachusetts that usually just knocks over a tree or something, and of course, it hit a populated area,” Frasier said.

Tornado watches and warnings had been posted Wednesday by the National Weather Service and were broadcast by radio and TV stations, “but people just don’t react to it here the way they do in other regions of the country,” he said.

Most Massachusetts communities also don’t have warning sirens like in the South and Plains, where people know exactly what they mean and are trained in grade school on how to react. Where sirens do exist, he said, New Englanders often treat them with curiosity rather than as a nudge to seek shelter.

In 1995, three people were killed by a tornado in the small town of Great Barrington, Mass., along the New York border. Last year’s tornado in Bridgeport, Conn., heavily damaged buildings but killed no one.

On June 9, 1953, a monster tornado sliced through Worcester and other central Massachusetts communities, killing 94 people and making it one of the deadliest single tornadoes in U.S. history.


Collins reported from West Springfield and Singer from Brimfield. Contributing were Associated Press writers Stephanie Reitz in Hartford, Conn.; and Denise Lavoie, Mark Pratt, Bob Salsberg, Sylvia Wingfield and Rodrique Ngowi in Boston.