USA gov't worker reports "abnormal" sound, pressure in China


The US State Department is looking into whether the report is similar to incidents in Cuba in 2016 and 2017, an American official told CNN, in which so-called "sonic attacks" on diplomats and family members led to a reduction in staffing there.

The State Department was taking the incident very seriously and working to determine the cause and impact, the embassy said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that medical teams were en route to Guangzhou to investigate after an alleged sonic attack similar to those reported in Cuba.

In an emailed notice to American citizens in China, the department said it was not now known what caused the symptoms in the city of Guangzhou, where an American consulate is located.

The U.S. official who experienced the "abnormal" sounds reported physical symptoms from late 2017 to April of this year, according to the State Department, and the employee was sent home for medical assessment.

The embassy, which issued a health alert to Americans living in China, said it could not link the case to health issues suffered by USA government staff in Cuba dating back to late 2016.

The U.S. government has about 2,000 employees posted to China.

"The employee was sent to the United States for further evaluation".

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Though the State Department has not linked this case to any other incident, news of unusual symptoms hitting US government employees overseas will no doubt draw comparison to a rash of incidents with USA and Canadian diplomats working in Cuba.

The federal employee reported experiencing physical symptoms from late 2017 through April 2018, when he or she returned to the US for medical evaluation. "Instead, move to a location where the sounds are not present".

"We can not at this time connect it with what happened in Havana, but we are investigating all possibilities", a U.S. embassy official told Reuters.

China's Foreign Ministry are investigating the incident in Guangzhou but is yet to comment.

In Cuba, the US victims had associated the onset of their symptoms with "unusual sounds or auditory sensations", a state department physician told the US Senate in January. Americans working in Cuba suffered permanent hearing loss, severe headaches, loss of balance, brain swelling, and disruption to cognitive functions.

The State Department is investigating whether or not this could be a possible "sonic attack", similar to what took place in Cuba past year and in 2016.

The cause of those incidents remains unresolved.