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Pompeo says China incident 'entirely consistent' with Cuba 'sonic attacks'

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that an incident involving a US government employee stationed in Chi...

Posted: May 24, 2018 11:05 AM
Updated: May 24, 2018 11:05 AM

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that an incident involving a US government employee stationed in China who reported "abnormal sensations of sound and pressure" suggesting a mild brain injury has medical indications that are "very similar" and "entirely consistent" to those experienced by American diplomats posted in Havana.

US officials have issued a health alert in China following the incident. Additionally, the US State Department is looking into whether the incident is similar to what happened in Cuba in 2016 and 2017, a US diplomatic official told CNN, which the US government characterized as a "sonic attack." That incident led to a reduction in staffing at the US Embassy in Havana.

The official who fell ill was assigned to the city of Guangzhou in southern China and reported a range of physical symptoms from late 2017 through to April 2018, the State Department said. The employee was sent back to the United States for assessment.

The US Embassy in Beijing learned on May 18 that the clinical findings of the evaluation matched that of a "mild traumatic brain injury," an embassy spokeswoman told CNN.

Pompeo said the State Department is moving medical teams into place in Guangzhou and has asked for assistance from the Chinese government, which has committed to providing it.

Speaking alongside Pompeo in a press conference on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China had been investigating the incident but hadn't found any source of the "sonic influence."

"We don't want to see that this individual case will be magnified, complicated, or even politicized. We hope people will not associate it with other unnecessary matters," Wang said, through a translator.

According to the alert issued by the US State Department on Wednesday, the cause of the injuries to the employee in China remains unknown, but officials were not aware of other similar symptoms among the diplomatic community in the country.

The spokeswoman at the US Embassy in Beijing told CNN the State Department was taking the incident "very seriously" and was working to determine the cause and impact of it.

"The Chinese government has assured us they are also investigating and taking appropriate measures," the spokeswoman said.

The State Department said in its Wednesday statement that anyone who experienced "unusual acute auditory or sensory phenomena" while in China should move away from the source of the noise.

Comparisons with Cuba incidents

The alert immediately raised comparisons with a series of unexplained incidents in Cuba that led to the withdrawal of most US personnel from the embassy in Havana. The cause of those incidents, reported in late 2016 and early 2017, still remains a mystery. Pompeo said Wednesday he expects to have a report from the accountability review board investigating the incidents in Cuba by the middle of next week.

At a congressional hearing in January, US officials detailed how personnel experienced a variety of symptoms including sharp ear pain, headaches, ringing in one ear, vertigo, disorientation, attention issues and signs consistent with mild traumatic brain injury or concussion. In nearly all cases, the ailments were preceded by some sort of "acoustic element," such as a "high-pitched beam of sound" or a "baffling sensation akin to driving with the windows partially open in a car."

Cuban officials previously denied they had anything to do with the diplomats' health problems and said the whole affair might be the result of mass hysteria.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 479326

Reported Deaths: 9353
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison32779484
Hinds30924582
DeSoto30319353
Jackson23542341
Rankin21235366
Lee14803219
Madison14120271
Jones13327223
Forrest13078236
Lauderdale11501303
Lowndes10377176
Lamar10163130
Pearl River9008217
Lafayette8193137
Hancock7404111
Oktibbeha6909122
Washington6900150
Monroe6459159
Neshoba6441201
Warren6387163
Pontotoc623093
Panola6203125
Bolivar6072144
Marshall6068121
Union571386
Pike5574135
Alcorn533289
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George466072
Scott454796
Leflore4444140
Prentiss443377
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Itawamba441599
Adams4376116
Tate4327101
Simpson4313112
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Covington413292
Sunflower4123104
Marion4073104
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Winston303091
Clay294173
Chickasaw286265
Clarke279890
Calhoun263940
Holmes261387
Smith248048
Yalobusha219647
Tallahatchie217550
Walthall209958
Greene206845
Lawrence205732
Perry198553
Amite197651
Webster195042
Noxubee177739
Montgomery171654
Jefferson Davis167442
Carroll161437
Tunica150834
Benton141533
Kemper138039
Claiborne126134
Choctaw126026
Humphreys125937
Franklin116328
Quitman103426
Wilkinson101536
Jefferson87333
Sharkey62320
Issaquena1926
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 778549

Reported Deaths: 13665
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1105871747
Mobile704651206
Madison49152610
Baldwin35946479
Shelby35796302
Tuscaloosa33410532
Montgomery32906672
Lee22231216
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Morgan19605326
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Cullman14348246
Elmore14241256
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DeKalb12036233
Walker10430323
Autauga9568133
Blount9555152
Jackson9235146
Coffee8728169
Colbert8426179
Dale8410170
Escambia6526114
Tallapoosa6501172
Covington6396163
Chilton6293141
Russell598555
Franklin5719100
Chambers5315133
Marion4734115
Dallas4665182
Clarke457076
Pike456294
Geneva4315116
Winston417192
Lawrence4086108
Bibb401680
Barbour341968
Marengo323183
Butler314988
Monroe314652
Pickens300470
Randolph299955
Henry298356
Hale289383
Cherokee284652
Fayette275672
Washington244848
Crenshaw235168
Clay225163
Macon217657
Cleburne217149
Lamar192140
Conecuh179646
Lowndes170158
Coosa166432
Wilcox155736
Bullock147742
Perry136036
Sumter124136
Greene120142
Choctaw72826
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