EU gives Greece blimp to monitor migrants

EU gives Greece blimp to monitor migrants

Authorities say European Union border agency Frontex has provided the Greek coast guard with a crewless blimp to help combat illegal immigration and to augment search and rescue operations in the eastern Aegean Sea.

Greece's Shipping Mministry says the 35-meter (115-foot) airship can fly as high as 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) and will be tethered to the ground on the island of Samos, which is close to Turkey's coast.

The island is a major arrival point for migrants who travel by sea in small smuggling boats to reach Europe.

A ministry statement issued Monday said the blimp will be equipped with radar and a thermal camera and be able to provide real-time, 24-hour monitoring of the surrounding sea.

Greek authorities say it be used on a four-week trial basis starting Tuesday. [AP]