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11 June 2018, 05:47 | Darnell Patrick
State Dept. Issues Health Alert in China Over Possible Sonic Attack at Embassies
The Cuban response comes after the USA withdrew two more people from the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba, due to health concerns, according to a senior State Department official. It is also the only US diplomatic installation in China authorized to process immigrant visas and handle adoptions.
For its part, China says it has no information concerning the illnesses. Unexplained sounds and vibrations that accompanied the symptoms initially led investigators to suspect a sonic weapon, although an interim Federal Bureau of Investigation report in January said no evidence had been uncovered that sound waves could have damaged the Americans' health, the AP reported.
The individuals in the "potentially new cases" of a mystery illness that has plagued embassy employees have undergone medical evaluations and were not yet "medically confirmed", the official said. The Foreign Ministry said Thursday the USA had not formally raised the matter with Beijing.
"We are working to figure out what took place, both in Havana and now in China as well", he said.
Washington has said in the past that Cuban authorities must take responsibility for the safety of U.S. diplomats on their soil, but the Havana government denies any knowledge of an attack.
The evacuated Americans have been transferred to the same facility at the University of Pennsylvania where the government workers in Cuba were sent, an unnamed US official told The Associated Press.
The preliminary findings of the medical reports on the 24 personnel affected in Cuba showed they had sensory and memory problems similar to the brain dysfunction seen with concussions.
Cuba 'sonic attack': US tests two more Havana embassy staff
Canada in April also ordered families of diplomatic staff in Cuba to return home after mysterious health symptoms were detected in 10 Canadians stationed on the island.
The New York Times said that an employee evacuated from Guangzhou on June 6 likened the sounds he experienced to "marbles rolling around a metal funnel". There are about 170 US diplomats or employees and their families in Guangzhou. The Guangzhou consulate opened months after the establishment of diplomatic relations between Beijing and Washington in 1979 and moved to its new purpose-built facility in 2013.
The statement said Cuba reaffirmed its desire to "cooperate with the United States authorities to clarify the situation".
"Hard to get my head around how it works", he said.
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