Another 18 people were injured when the 10-wheeler truck slammed into the oncoming minivans on a highway about 160 kilometers (100 miles) west of Gauhati, the capital of Assam state, according to the Barpata district police station.
The minivans, which had been carrying workers to a local brick kiln, were smashed into mangled metal masses and pushed into a roadside ditch. Among the dead were five women. Some had been taking their children to work to be looked after during the day.
The truck driver was arrested and was being treated for injuries, according to Inspector General of Police L.R. Bishnoi. A passenger in the truck, which had been on its way to the neighboring state of West Bengal, was among those killed.
Area villagers arrived first at the scene. Local TV broadcasts showed a huge crowd surrounding 28 bodies covered in white sheets and lined up on green grass. Another two died hours later in a hospital, taking the death toll to 30.