After several weeks of ongoing tremors, on 1 April 2014, at 20:46 hours, an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.2 on the Richter scale occurred 89 kilometres south-west of Cuya (northern part of Chile). A few minutes after the earthquake, the National Emergency Office of the Ministry of the Interior and Public Security (ONEMI) requested a preventive evacuation along the coastal border of the affected regions. At 20:55 hours the Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service of the Navy (SHOA, for its Spanish name) declared a tsunami alert, which was extended throughout the entire coastal area of the country.
A total of 972,457 people were evacuated nationwide. The number of people affected the earthquake and its subsequent replica on 2 April is estimated to be 513,837. There were six deaths registered from the region of Tarapacá; four of these were due to cardio-respiratory arrest, one was due to structural collapse, and one was due to a simple accident associated with the evacuation process, according to ONEMI. At the moment, assessments estimate that in Arica, Putre and Camarones in the Arica and Parinacota regions, 147 houses were seriously damaged. In Tarapacá region, 9,400 houses were damaged and about 1,000 will be demolished.
This region has had a rapid economic growth in the last few years due to the mining industry, which has in part prompted the migration of low-income families from neighboring countries. Other elements of the economy are related to the fishing industry, commerce and some tourism. Outside of the cities, in the desert, there are several indigenous communities that live in very different conditions from the rest of the country.