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Havana Act Proposes Aid to US Diplomats Who Suffered Mysterious Illness

FILE - Tourists in a vintage car pass by the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, Nov. 7, 2019.
FILE - Tourists in a vintage car pass by the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, Nov. 7, 2019.

American lawmakers on Wednesday introduced legislation providing aid to diplomats who suffered a mysterious illness known as the Havana Syndrome while posted in Cuba.

The so-called Havana Act would authorize the government to provide injured employees with additional financial support for brain injuries resulting from what the Trump administration termed a "sonic attack."

Over 40 American diplomats serving in Cuba in 2016 said they suffered persistent ear pain, headaches, and problems with memory, concentration, balance, sleeping and more.

Employees at the time reported hearing loud buzzing, "piercing squeals" and "mechanical-sounding" noises.

"As we work to identify the adversary responsible, we must support the victims," Senator Susan Collins, a co-sponsor of the bill, said Wednesday.

Scientists studying the attacks theorized that weapons emitting damaging sound or microwaves caused the symptoms, though some later argued the strange sounds came from a loud species of cricket found in Cuba. Another group of researchers found the sounds could be caused by ultrasound signals from everyday devices crossed with signals from a surveillance system.

During the uproar, the State Department cut staff at the embassy by more than half.

VOA's Jeff Seldin contributed to this report.

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