Source: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/images/newsgraphics/2011/0311-japan-quake-tsunami/tsunami.pngHowever the memory of last years Chilean tsunami that devastated Constitución is still fresh and I don't think the Chilean or local government wanted to risk any further causalities. Although they canceled school for all the children, there were still people at the beach and shopping downtown like any other day.
However at ~18:00 local time the klaxon went off and the Carabineros began clearing downtown following orders from Santiago to evacuate everyone living within possible inundation zones. I went to my 7:30 Spanish lesson and at 8:30 when I wandered back out onto 21 de Mayo, the primary shopping district, I was astonished at the celerity with which everyone had evacuated the downtown area.
It was difficult catching a collectivo home so I walked about halfway and was again amazed at the migration inland. I saw families pushing strollers filled with children and belongings, 100s of vehicles normally parked in driveways and estacionamentos, and numerous people who had clearly been living on the beach (it is legal to camp on some of the beaches in Arica) just sitting in the park or in the rotundas. The hospital was clearly on high alert, all the Carabineros and their local counterparts were prevalent and they kept their emergency lights on all the time as they drove around the city - the tension was quite tangible and although I've never lived in earthquake or tsunami country before it was very similar to the feeling right before a big snowstorm or strong thunderstorm in the Midwest.
Any resulting waves aren't expected to reach Arica until 23:24 so no word on the impact yet but I will update if anything of interest happens in the next few hours. It's interesting to think that in 1868 an 8.6 earthquake occurred in Chile that affected New Zealand, Hawaii and Japan and now an earthquake near Japan produced a tsunami that is fluttering back across the Pacific - like earthquakes playing ping pong I guess.