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At least seven dead after multiple tornadoes, severe winds tear through South

Heather Paul/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- A massive storm system sweeping across the United States struck the South on Thursday with severe winds and numerous tornadoes, killing at least seven people in Alabama and Georgia.

In Alabama's Autauga County, northwest of Montgomery, at least six people died due to the severe weather, according to the local sheriff's office. "Multiple" other people were hospitalized and about 40 to 50 homes were either damaged or destroyed, the county emergency management agency told ABC News.

In Georgia's Butts County, southeast of Atlanta, at least one person -- a child -- died when a tree fell on a vehicle, the local coroner told ABC News.

An outbreak of at least 35 tornadoes was reported across Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky on Thursday. The same storm system hit the West Coast earlier this week with torrential rain, heavy snow and gusty wind, causing widespread flooding in drought-ravaged California.

The National Weather Service confirmed at least three EF-1 tornadoes touched down in Kentucky on Thursday, with one wielding winds of up to 110 miles per hour.

The NWS also confirmed a "large and extremely dangerous" tornado struck Selma, Alabama, on Thursday at 12:20 p.m. local time.

The Selma Mayor's Office said the twister delivered "significant damage" to the city's historic downtown.

Most of Selma's streets are closed due to downed power lines and trees. But all students are reported to be safe and at their schools, according to the mayor's office.

Selma, a famous focal point of the civil rights movement, is located in central Alabama and has a population of about 17,000.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a state of emergency for six counties -- including Dallas County, which encompasses Selma, and Autauga County -- "that were in the path of Mother Nature's wrath," the governor tweeted Thursday evening.

Ivey said she will be monitoring the severe weather system "to determine if an expanded state of emergency is needed."

ABC News' Matt Foster, Max Golembo and Melissa Griffin contributed to this report.

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