The tsunami is believed to have been triggered when the Anak Krakatau volcano erupted in the Sunda Strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra, prompting a series of underwater landslides, according to Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology and Geological Agency (BMKG).
They were certain to rise further, with scores still missing from the affected areas along the coastlines of western Java and southern Sumatra islands, where hundreds of military personnel and volunteers were conducting their grim search along debris-strewn beaches.
Kathy Mueller, a communications delegate with the Red Cross, was working in Indonesia when the tsunami hit - because of ongoing recovery efforts after a previous tsunami in September, which killed over 1700 people. Before daybreak, disaster crews were gathering the dead and creating outdoor morgues piled with orange body bags - scenes that have been repeated many times this year across Indonesia.
Members of the band were seen being swept away as the wave destroyed the stage. One says that an underwater landslide may have caused the disruption triggering the giant wave.
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Anak Krakatau had been spewing ash and lava for months before a 64-hectare section of its south-west side collapsed, said Dwikorita Karnawati, the head of the meteorological agency. They also cite abnormally high tides during the full moon.
The death toll from a tsunami that struck the coastal islands of Indonesia surpassed 370 Monday as rescuers continue searching for survivors who were left blindsided Saturday night by the fast-moving wave.
Seventeen were performing for 200 employees of state electricity utility Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) and family members had gathered at the Tanjung Lesung beach for an end-of-year party when the tsunami struck at about 9.30pm.
Anak Krakatau volcano is shown during an eruption at Sunda strait in South Lampung, Indonesia, Dec. 3, 2018 in a photo taken by Antara Foto.
Adding weight to his warnings, Sutopo raised the issue of Indonesia's outdated tsunami buoy network which he said hasn't worked properly since 2012.
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The tsunami forced thousands of residents to evacuate to higher ground. The 305-meter (1,000-foot) Anak Krakatau been erupting since June and did so again 24 minutes before the tsunami, the geophysics agency said.
"Such triggers would not have been detected by Indonesia's tsunami early warning system because that is geared-up to detect earthquake-triggered tsunamis", said Richard Teeuw, a disaster risk reduction expert at the University of Portsmouth in England.
A tweet from the United Nations Population Funds of Asia Pacific explains how volcanic activity can cause a tsunami, and Indonesian officials have clarified it was indeed a tsunami, and not a tidal wave.
The waves that swept terrified people into the sea Saturday night followed an eruption and possible landslide on Anak Krakatau, one of the world's most infamous volcanic islands.
The tsunami comes less than three months after a 7.4-magnitude natural disaster struck central Sulawesi, causing widespread damage and killing 2,256 people.
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Roads and infrastructure are poor in many areas of disaster-prone Indonesia, making access hard in the best of conditions.