An apparent tornado tore through a rural area north of here Friday, ripping apart homes and damaging farm buildings and an elementary school. At least seven people were killed and 70 injured.

Lt. Art Jetton of the Hall County sheriff's department said five people, including two children, were killed when the storms hit their mobile homes and another was killed in a car. The seventh victim was a 4-year-old girl in neighboring White County.There was also a death indirectly related to the storm, that of a deputy sheriff who was hit by a car as she helped at the site of a storm-related traffic accident.

The National Weather Service did not immediately confirm the storm was a tornado, but witnesses said the damage was consistent with a twister. Aerial television footage showed a path of damage half a mile wide and 10 miles long in a mostly rural area.

Waterfront homes on scenic Lake Lanier were smashed to pieces, and oak trees were ripped from the ground. Also damaged were several poultry farm buildings containing hundreds of chickens each. There was no word on how many birds were lost.

Rescue workers went house to house, searching through the debris for other possible victims.

"A lot of people got in the path of flying debris," said Kathy Bowers, spokeswoman at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville. She said her hospital was treating 54 people with cuts, bruises and abdominal injuries. The other injured people were taken to Lanier Park Hospital.