Another 100 people are missing from the small village of Al-Dhafeer, on a rocky hillside, 100 kilometers north of the Yemeni capital of San'a, which was partially buried Wednesday night when part of the adjacent mountain gave way.
Rescue workers were still hearing heard moans and cries for help as they dug into the mound of earth and rocks, said security officer, Ahmad al-Maqdishi.
Al-Maqdishi said 23 houses had been completely destroyed and the residents of another 150 homes had been evacuated for fear of a second landslide from Dhafeer Mountain.
Another security officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media, said 39 bodies had been recovered.
"All my family has gone," said resident Jamil Ahmed, who was visiting San'a when the landslide happened.
"The number (of dead) has increased to 45," an interior ministry offical said, requesting anonymity.
The death toll was expected to rise further as dozens of residents from the village of some 270 people were still missing and believed to be under the mud and rubble.
The authorities said about 700 soldiers and workers had been sent to Al-Dhafeer.
Rescuers used tractors and small earthmovers to clear the rubble and some people used their hands to search for survivors.
"There could have been fewer victims if this had happened in day time, but what can we do?" al-Maqdishi said.
Some of the village's residents have been moved to neighboring villages and settled in schools, where the students were given a holiday.
For centuries, Yemenis have built their houses on the sides of mountains, sometimes carving homes out of the rockside.
It was not immediately clear what caused the landslide. Yemen's seismology center had no word of an earthquake and there were no reports of severe weather.
Despite its proximity to oil-rich Saudi Arabia, Yemen is one of the world's poorest countries with a per capita gross domestic product of just US$800.