Dan­ger­ous noise? Tones Amer­i­cans heard in Cuba cap­tured in record­ing

Santa Fe New Mexican - - NATION & WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON — It sounds sort of like a mass of crick­ets. A high-pitched whine, but from what? It seems to un­du­late, even writhe. Lis­ten closely: There are mul­ti­ple, dis­tinct tones that sound to some like they’re col­lid­ing in a nails-on-the-chalk­board ef­fect.

The As­so­ci­ated Press has ob­tained a record­ing of what some U.S. Em­bassy work­ers heard in Ha­vana in a se­ries of un­nerv­ing in­ci­dents later deemed to be de­lib­er­ate at­tacks. The record­ing is the first dis­sem­i­nated pub­licly of the many taken in Cuba of mys­te­ri­ous sounds that led in­ves­ti­ga­tors ini­tially to sus­pect a sonic weapon.

The record­ings them­selves are not be­lieved to be dan­ger­ous to those who lis­ten. Sound ex­perts and physi­cians say they know of no sound that can cause phys­i­cal dam­age when played for short du­ra­tions at nor­mal lev­els through stan­dard equip­ment like a cell­phone or com­puter.

What de­vice pro­duced the orig­i­nal sound re­mains un­known. Amer­i­cans af­fected in Ha­vana re­ported the sounds hit them at ex­treme vol­umes.

Whether there’s a di­rect re­la­tion­ship be­tween the sound and the phys­i­cal dam­age suf­fered by the vic­tims is also un­clear. The U.S. says that in gen­eral the at­tacks caused hear­ing, cog­ni­tive, vis­ual, bal­ance, sleep and other prob­lems.

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