Photo shows the view of a landslide that buried dozens of houses in Retamas town, Peru, on Tuesday. AFP
A video circulating on social media shows a hill's collapse, and the person filming can be heard screaming "No! God! It's all buried."
Manuel Llempen, the governor of the La Libertad region where Retamas is located, told RPP radio that "the landslide has buried, according to the preliminary report, approximately 60 to 80 houses."
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"They are completely buried," he added.
"We have estimated between 15 and 20 people who are still missing," Defence Minister Jose Gavidia said on a visit to the town on Tuesday night, some 12 hours after the collapse of the hill.
Rescue workers dig in a building affected by a landslide in Retamas village, Peru. AFP
Officials earlier said there were at least three children among the missing.
The landslide occurred around 8:30am local time (1330 GMT), according to Peru's National Emergency Operations Center (COEN).
Retamas sits high in the Andes, at about 800 metres (9,000 ft).
The town's police commissioner, Lieutenant Carlos Alberto Valderrama, told AFP that the police and fire departments were continuing their rescue operation.
"We have managed to rescue four people, among them a Venezuelan citizen who was trapped in a market. So far we have found no fatalities," Valderrama said.
"The area is blocked off. There are cracks in the hill — we have been warned that there could be another landslide."
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The Quito Security Department said at least 48 more people were injured, while eight houses collapsed and others were damaged when the hillside gave way late on Monday. The authorities also reported 12 missing people.
The state fire department said late on Tuesday that more than 180 soldiers were already working in the stricken Petropolis region, which saw hundreds of deaths from heavy rainfall in 2011.
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