Catastrophe Toll Up Catastrophes, accidents killing five or more persons, took about 1,800 lives in this country in 1953, a higher toll than in any year since 1947, according to the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Tornadoes proved a major factor in the life loss, 13 of the big winds killing more than 450 persons. Fire played some part in many of these tornadoes. Of the eight other disasters in 1953 which claimed more than 25 lives, fire played a grim part. A nursing home in Largo, Fla., burned, leaving 33 dead; explosion and fire on an aircraft carrier in Boston, Mass., took 37 more; another explosion and fire, this time in a Chicago factory, killed 35 others. Airplane crashes, involving fire swelled the toll: 46 dead in Mobile, Ala.; 40 dead on Utah-Idaho, border; 44 dead at Pensacola, Fla., and 35 killed near Oakland, Calif.