Hundreds of bodies were recovered on Tuesday from beaches, homes and hotels ravaged by the second tsunami to hit Indonesia in as many years, pushing the death toll to more than 441, officials said. Nearly 230 others were missing.
The government, meanwhile, acknowledged it received regional warnings about the impending disaster but did not pass them on to threatened communities along Java island's southern coast.
But even if it had attempted to contact the local authorities, it is unclear how the alerts would have reached residents or tourists with no system of sirens or alarms in place.
Corpses covered in white sheets piled up at makeshift morgues, with several others, includiing a 6-month-old baby lying beneath the blazing sun in the popular tourist resort of Pangandaran.
But the search for survivors continued, with parents among the last to give up.
"The water was too strong," said Irah, the mother of a 6-year-old child as she dug through a pile of rubble with her bare hands, close to the spot where she last saw her son. "Oh God. Eki, where are you?"
The magnitude 7.7 undersea quake on Monday triggered two-metre high walls of water that crashed into a 180 kilometre stretch of beach on Java, which was unaffected by the devastating 2004 Asian tsunami.