Forty-five grimy, exhausted Chinese coal miners trapped by a cave-in were rescued on Saturday, ending a 36-hour ordeal in the world's most dangerous country for the industry.

Eight other miners were killed in the accident.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV showed rescuers with helmets and oxygen tanks carrying the workers out of the mine shaft to ambulances.

The miners lay on stretchers, wrapped with blankets with their eyes covered by towels to prevent them from being damaged by the sudden exposure to light after hours of being trapped.


Rescuers line up to carry out rescue missions at a coal mine in central China's Henan province. (Zhu Xiang/Xinhua/Associated Press)

The rescue was the biggest in the country since April 2010, when 115 miners were pulled out alive after being trapped for eight days in a mine in northern China.

The accident happened on Thursday at the Qianqiu Coal Mine located in the city of Samenxia in Henan province, central China.

Rescue workers dug a small tunnel about 1,650 feet (500 meters) deep to reach the trapped men, the People's Daily newspaper said.

Seven were pulled out alive on Friday.

The head of the State Administration for Work Safety said a magnitude-2.9 earthquake had occurred on Thursday near the mine shortly before a "rock burst" was reported.

The phenomenon occurs when settling earth bears down on mine walls and causes a sudden release of stored energy.

The exploding chunks of coal and rock, or the shock waves alone, can be lethal.

CCTV said the rescue work had been hindered by large amounts of coal dust thrown up by the explosion.

China's coal mines are the deadliest in the world, although the industry's safety record has improved in recent years as smaller, illegal mines have been closed.