Bodies of the dead - including those of four members of a family - were found on Thursday, hours after heavy rain triggered the early morning mudslides in Mokokchung town in Nagaland state, district administrator Imkongtemsu Ao said by telephone from the remote area.
"It rained like never before throughout Wednesday night. The scene was like water pouring out of buckets, resulting in massive landslides at several places in this hill station," Ao said from Mokokchung, 370km east of Gauhati, capital of Assam state and the largest city in the region.
Six people were injured by the mudslides in the town of 200,000 people, Ao said.
Most of the mudslides occurred before dawn on Thursday, wiping out the four-member family of Boken Das, a street vendor. A police officer lost his mother and three daughters.
Communication cut off
Police and paramilitary troopers, helped by civilian volunteers, recovered the bodies.
"The entire town is perched on a hilltop and the landslides have not only blocked major roads linking the town to the rest of India, but have made communication to localities within it difficult," Ao said by telephone.
Many families whose houses are vulnerable have moved away to stay with friends and relatives, he said.
Nagaland Home Minister Thenucho said local authorities have been given seven days to assess the damage and come up with plans to prevent similar mudslides.