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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 July 2006, 14:18 GMT 15:18 UK
Indonesia death toll passes 500
Debris is scattered in the beach area, July 18, in Pangandaran, West Java
People are still desperately looking for loved ones
The death toll in the Indonesian tsunami has risen to at least 520, fuelling questions over why no warning was given ahead of the disaster.

Government officials said they received a warning that the island of Java was threatened by a tsunami following an underwater earthquake off the coast.

But they said they were unable to pass on the warning to coastal areas.

A fresh earthquake hit the island on Wednesday, but no injuries or major damage have been reported so far.

The epicentre of the latest quake was under the sea off Java's southwestern coast, and buildings shook in surrounding areas as far away as the capital Jakarta.

But officials at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said no new tsunami was expected.

Indonesia is still working to build an early warning system following the massive 2004 Asian tsunami.

I saw enormous waves engulf our beach and sweep away cars and boats
Eyewitness Elan Jayalani

A warning system is being installed in the western province of Aceh, where 130,000 people were killed in 2004, but the government says Java will not be covered until next year at the earliest.

The giant 2m-high wall of water which hit the resort of Pangandaran on Monday was triggered by a 7.7 magnitude earthquake.

Amateur video footage has emerged showing a black wall of water tearing towards a beach full of children.

Meanwhile, rumours of another giant wave hitting the coast caused hundreds of people to flee inland on Wednesday.

Soon after Monday's quake, US and Japanese agencies issued tsunami alerts for parts of Indonesia and Australia, but the Indonesian government says it was unable to relay the message to the coast.

Work out the tsunami warning details later. Lives are more important than money
Julie P, USA

And even if it had, there were no warning sirens or alarms to pass the information on to residents.

"Our system is not yet working properly. We are still developing a communication system especially for the regions," said one government scientist, Fauzi.

Peter Cameron, a Red Cross spokesman in the capital Jakarta, told the BBC the authorities had only received a warning about 20 minutes before the tsunami struck.

He said that "by the time they got it and got ready to disseminate it, the tsunami had already hit the coast".

Reminder of Aceh

Indonesia map
0819GMT: 7.7 undersea earthquake triggers tsunami
0838GMT: International quake monitors send warnings, but no local alert systems in place
0915GMT: Waves around two metres high hit Java coast
Damage from the tsunami has been reported along a 200km (125 mile) stretch of Java's coastline.

Police and army teams are searching affected areas with sniffer dogs and mechanical diggers.

"We are looking for people who are still missing or buried under the rubble as well as clearing the debris," said army officer Deden Rajab.

According to Maman Susanto, from the government's national disaster co-ordinating board, 275 people are still listed as missing.

Survivors in Pangandaran have been describing their terror, saying said the experience brought back memories of the 2004 tsunami.

"When I heard the word tsunami, images from Aceh flashed in my mind and like everybody else I ran and tried to distance myself from the sea as fast as possible," said Sudarmin, a 48-year-old coconut farmer.

More than 50,000 people have been displaced and are currently living in makeshift tents or on the floors of mosques.

Many people have been living in the hills since the disaster.

"I am too scared to go down," one elderly woman told the French news agency AFP.

See the devastation caused by the tsunami

Java tsunami death toll increases
18 Jul 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Asia tsunami warning system ready
28 Jun 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Mourners mark tsunami anniversary
26 Dec 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Tsunami-hit Aceh's psychological scars
15 Aug 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Powell shock at Aceh destruction
05 Jan 05 |  Asia-Pacific
The tsunami disaster explained
30 Dec 04 |  In Depth
Country profile: Indonesia
23 Mar 06 |  Country profiles

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