| 5.5°C Dublin

Irish trio's bright idea bringing water to desperate villagers in earthquake-ravaged Chile

THREE Irish men are hoping to make a difference to the lives of people affected by the shocking Chilean earthquake.

Ian Ballesty (44), from Killiney, David Kennedy (32), from Swords, and Alister Dudman (46), from Belfast, currently live and work in Chile. The trio are hoping that they will be able to help a number of villages, devastated by the recent earthquake, with solar-powered water pumps.

Each pump will cost €800 -- and the men are now relying on the goodwill and kindness of friends and family at home and abroad to help. So far they have raised €15,000 for the project, and are aiming to raise more.

The water pumps are solar- powered which is especially useful in areas where the electrical supply has been knocked out. Many rural areas in Chile face this problem in the aftermath of an earthquake that was 400 times greater than the one that hit Haiti.

So far, solar-powered water pumps have been installed at two remote rural settlements, including Estancilla, which is a five-hour drive from the nearest town. Now 3,000 litres of water are being pumped daily.

"We raised money from friends and family, Facebook and through a website we set up," Mr Ballesty told the Herald.

"They had nothing, and no extra help was coming to them either."

The second area they went to was a place called Rarin. "We met the Mayor of the local town, just by chance, and he told us we had to get up to this place right away. On the first day we had pumped 500 litres of water and the system is now set to pump 2,000 litres a day," he said.

The difference in the amount of water that can be pumped each day is due to the depth of the well.

Mr Ballesty lives close to the epicentre at Concepcion. He told of how his house is on stilts and it "danced a samba" when the quake, which measured 8.8 on the Richter scale, hit.