Eighteen months after U.S. diplomats in Cuba reported being sickened by mysterious "sonic attacks," resulting in dead-end investigations, similar incidents are being reported by diplomats in China.
Several U.S. government personnel have been evacuated from the American Consulate in Guanghzou for “further evaluation and a comprehensive assessment of their symptoms,” the State Department announced yesterday.
Last month, a consulate worker was diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury after reporting "abnormal sensations of sound and pressure" since late 2017, the "Guardian" reported today.
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On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a task force had been formed to investigate the unexplained incidents. The State Department had been examining staff and looking into reports of the attacks since May.
Mark Lenzi, a security guard, was one of the consulate employees evacuated this week. He reported hearing sounds similar to marbles rolling around in a metal funnel, then experienced insomnia and sleeplessness. He lived in the same building as the consulate worker who suffered brain injury. It's unclear exactly how many U.S. consulate employees are affected, if they all live in the same area, or if they only heard the sounds at home.
Starting in 2016, 24 people connected to the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba, reported hearing sounds described as buzzing, insects, static or metal sheets waving; some experienced hearing loss. One person in an apartment might hear the sounds, while others would not. Investigators wondered if a sophisticated sonic weapon was being used. Suspecting foul play by Cuba, the U.S. expelled 15 of that country's diplomats in 2017.
But Cuba denied any involvement, and reports of similar symptoms surfacing in China now have officials wondering if that country or Russia is to blame, the "New York Times" reported Wednesday. The Chinese government pledged to investigate the matter, and a spokeperson said China took seriously its obligations under the Vienna Convention to protect other nations' diplomats.
Earlier this year, "Scientific American" reported that after extensive investigations, teams of American and Cuban investigators could not explain the incidents in Havana. They discounted injury caused by sound, infections, toxins, and even mass hysteria. No one could determine how a sonic instrument could cause hearing loss or cognitive problems without making a deafening racket.
The matter dropped out of the news. But the reports from China have "raised alarms" in the State Department, the "Times" reported Wednesday.