State media say death toll in China mine blast rises to 79

The death toll in a massive gas explosion at a coal mine in northern China rose to 79 Friday after nine more bodies were found overnight, state media reported. The Xinhua News Agency said 17 people were still unaccounted for among the 111 workers reported underground at the time of Wednesday night's accident. Just 15 miners fled to safety and were apparently unharmed. Xinhua and other Chinese media reported that managers of the mine in Shanxi province's Hongtong county had delayed reporting the accident overnight while attempting to launch their own rescue, wasting the crucial hours when coordinated rescue efforts could be most effective. Mine managers were being questioned by police and its bank account was frozen, the reports said.