Indonesia tsunami: Death toll mounts to 373

People gather salvageable items from damaged buildings on Carita beach after the area was hit by a tsunami that may have been caused by the Anak Krakatoa volcano

"Signs that a tsunami was coming weren't detected and so people did not have time to evacuate", said Indonesia's disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, who blamed vandalism, technical problems and limited budgets for the lack of warning buoys.

He said more than 16,000 people were displaced and that there was an urgent need for heavy equipment in the Sumur subdistrict, a remote area near Ujung Kulon National Park that experienced heavy damage.

"This is an unusual situation because we have a very bad disaster that killed hundreds of our sisters and brothers in Banten", he said, referring to the Javanese province.

Christmas celebrations traditionally filled with laughter and uplifting music were replaced by sombre prayers for tsunami victims in an area hit without warning following a volcanic eruption, leaving more than 420 people dead and thousands homeless in disaster-prone Indonesia. Some villages there have been cut off due to damaged roads and bridges, making it hard to supply aid and reach people who may be injured or trapped. Church leaders called on Christians to pray for victims of the tsunami.

Indonesian soldiers and people clean up the debris following the tsunami in Sumur, Indonesia, Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2018.

Military troops, government personnel and volunteers were searching along debris-strewn beaches.

Authorities are using sniffer dogs to try to find any survivors and victims' bodies, while they have turned to drones to survey the devastated coastlines.

'I can't rebuild, everything is gone - my clothes, my money, ' said the 60-year-old, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

The lead singer of the Indonesian pop band Seventeen found the body of his dead wife after looking for days. The group was performing at a beach hotel when the tsunami was captured on video smashing into their stage, killing several band members and crew.

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Anak Krakatoa is an island that emerged around 1928 in the crater left by Krakatoa, whose massive 1883 eruption killed at least 36,000 people.

The latest in a series of natural disasters to strike South-east Asia's largest economy this year is set to pose a fresh challenge for Mr Widodo as he works amid a presidential election campaign to help the thousands of people displaced.

The vast archipelago nation is one of the most disaster-hit nations on Earth due to its position straddling the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, where tectonic plates collide.

Out in the strait, Anak Krakatau (Child of Krakatau) was still erupting on Sunday night, belching white smoke and ash into the sky.

The tsunami "appears to have been caused by an underwater collapse" of part of the volcano, said David Rothery, a professor of planetary geosciences at Britain's Open University.

Saturday's tsunami hit Tanjung Lesung, a surfing haven in the westernmost part of the Java island that's been branded a new Bali by President Joko Widodo's government.

The high waves isolated hundreds of people on Sebesi island, about 12 km from the volcano.

The timing of the disaster over the Christmas season evoked memories of the Indian Ocean tsunami triggered by an quake on December 26, 2004, which killed 226,000 people in 14 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

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