Footage shared on social media by a local broadcaster showed emergency workers in orange jumpsuits and helmets forming ranks outside a fire station as snowflakes whirled through the air.
Other images showed rescuers picking through towering piles of collapsed masonry in which a few personal belongings could be seen.
Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered “all-out” rescue efforts, CCTV reported.
Xi “demanded that rescue forces are organised quickly … and efforts made to reduce casualties as far as possible,” the broadcaster reported him as saying.
He added that it was “necessary to properly handle the work of comforting the families of the deceased and resettling affected people”.
CCTV broadcast an image it said showed a firefighter working to pull a trapped villager from inside a home affected by the disaster.
The local village head declined to speak about the landslide when contacted by phone, telling AFP he was “too busy”.
Landslides are common in Yunnan, a far-flung and largely impoverished region of China where steep mountain ranges butt against the Himalayan plateau.
Monday’s disaster occurred in a rural area surrounded by towering peaks dusted with snow, state media footage showed.