US Tourists Think They Were Hit by Those Weird 'Sonic Attacks' in Cuba

After a handful of American diplomats reportedly suffered hearing loss from a bizarre sonic device, dozens of US citizens say they think they were targeted too.

|
Oct 19 2017, 5:40pm

Photo by Sven Creutzmann/Mambo photo/Getty Images

Roughly three dozen US citizens say they think they could have been hit by a mysterious "sonic attack" while vacationing in Cuba, developing a set of bizarre symptoms similar to the ones a handful of US diplomats and intelligence agents have suffered after visiting the country, the Associated Press reports.

Word about the string of incidents broke back in August, when the AP reported a handful of US diplomats in Cuba had suffered acute hearing loss from what US officials believe to be a "covert sonic device" that emits a mysterious high-pitched sound. Government officials now say at least 22 embassy workers and their spouses have been hit. Some have gone permanently deaf, or suffered concussions; others experienced dizziness, nausea, severe headaches, and tinnitus. While not every victim reported hearing the terrifying sound, a number of those who did said the recording that AP recently obtained was spot on.

Chris Allen, an American tourist who visited Cuba in 2014, told the AP he came down with a weird set of symptoms years ago during a stay at Havana's Hotel Capri—the same place that housed US diplomats hit by the alleged attack. On two consecutive nights during the trip, he said all of his limbs went numb after he crawled into bed at his hotel. His symptoms reportedly persisted for half a year after he left Cuba, sending him to six different physicians who still can't figure out what happened to him.

There's no indication any of the US diplomats experienced that kind of numbness, but—just like Allen—their symptoms indicated some sort of neurological problem. Allen says he didn't hear a bizarre, high-pitched sound, but as the AP points out, many of the affected embassy workers didn't either. Still, some doctors are skeptical the attack would have affected tourists.

"I am sure that between April 2014 and October 2017 there must have been a very large number of people who were in Cuba and who were affected by various symptoms," NYU neuroscience professor Mario Svirsky told the AP. "But that's not unusual."

Eleven months after US diplomats first reported their symptoms, the State Department still doesn't know how to test whether someone's been attacked, can't identify the device wreaking all this havoc, and hasn't figured out who might be responsible. The US has since brought most of its diplomatic force home, and warned American tourists to stay away from the island.

As for any tourists who think they could have been affected by the sonic device? The State Department says to "consult a medical professional."

Follow Drew Schwartz on Twitter.

Stories