US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (pictured) on Wednesday said investigators are trying to solve the mystery behind unusual sounds and strange sensations that left one of its employees in China with mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) recently, months after 24 of its diplomats and their family members fell victim to similar sound attacks in Cuba.
Authorities in Beijing could not be immediately reached for comment but reports said they too are investigating the abnormal sounds that haunted and hurt the unnamed US staffer posted in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.
Initially, Washington suspected Americans had been targeted by some sort of acoustic weapon. But no evidence has come up to support that theory.
Pompeo said investigators are trying to figure out what took place earlier in Havana and now in China.
The US embassy in Beijing issued a health alert on Wednesday over the incident. It said the employee recently reported subtle and vague, but abnormal sensations of sound and pressure.
The staffer experienced a variety of “physical symptoms” between late 2017 and April this year. The person was sent to the US and diagnosed with MTBI on May 18, embassy spokeswoman Jinnie Lee said.
Americans working in China have been urged to consult a doctor if they face similar experience.
The embassy note said that if people hear unusual sounds or piercing noises while in China, they should move away from the source of the sound or noise instead of trying to locate it.
The US State Department is seriously working to determine the cause and effect of this strange incident, Lee said.
Last year, 24 US diplomats and their family members in Cuba fell victims to a similar incident that caused them injuries linked to brain trauma.
The symptoms started after they heard “unusual sounds or auditory sensations”, Charles Rosenfarb, a State Department physician, told the US Senate in January.
Later, they suffered headaches, hearing loss, disorientation and some loss of cognitive ability. The symptoms were mixed but consistent with brain trauma, Rosenfarb said.
Ten Canadian diplomats and their relatives also complained of a strange illness.
Both countries reduced their diplomatic staff in Havana due to the mystery that still baffles investigators and strained US diplomatic relations with Cuba.
The Canadian government said while the cause of the symptoms remains unknown, it could be “human-made.”