Published: Thu, June 07, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Mysterious ‘sonic attacks’ prompt evacuation of 2 more USA staff from China

The U.S. State Department dispatched a medical team to China as reports emerged that diplomats there appeared to be suffering from a mystery ailment that drew comparisons to health issues detected among Americans stationed in Cuba.

The Americans who were evacuated worked at the US Consulate in the southern city of Guangzhou, and their colleagues and family members are being tested by a State Department medical team, officials said.

So far, 24 U.S. government personnel and family members who served in Cuba and one employee in China have suffered symptoms of the unusual sickness, the State department has said.

A health alert has been issued by the United States embassy in Guangzhou, warning Americans living or working in China to take action if "unusual sounds or piercing noises" are heard.

For months, U.S. officials have been anxious that their diplomats have been subjected to targeted attacks involving odd sounds, leading to symptoms similar to those "following concussion or minor traumatic brain injury", the State Department says.

Last August, 21 diplomats working at the U.S. embassy in Cuba were affected by an incident involving an audio device, according to the State Department.

In Guangzhou, the first employee to be evacuated complained of "subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure", according to the State Department.

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One of the diplomats in China who reported symptoms described his experience to The Washington Post, saying he was in his apartment when he heard something like "marbles bouncing and hitting a floor, then rolling on an incline with a static sound".

The nature of the injury, and whether a common cause exists, hasn't been established yet, the department said.

President Donald Trump has said he believed Cuba knew about the attacks and could have stopped them.

"At present, there's been no discovery of clues or the reason causing the situation the United States mentioned", Hua told a regular news briefing in Beijing, adding that China protected diplomats according to worldwide convention.

But despite an investigation by the FBI that has lasted for more than a year, USA officials have been unable to determine the cause of the injuries, much less who the perpetrators might be. But President Donald Trump and other USA officials have accused Cuba of having targeted US personnel with some kind of "acoustic sonic weapon" for unknown reasons, an allegation the Cuban government has forcefully denied.

One US official was diagnosed with mild brain trauma, the same injury that affected the Cuban embassy staff.

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