US Embassy Buildings In Kabul Can Electrocute People

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Ethan Barton Editor in Chief
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Officials and residents could be electrocuted in two buildings in the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, likely due to faulty wiring, according to a government watchdog.

Ground wiring in an office building and a residential apartment unit built by the Department of State in Kabul measured lethal electrical currents, according an inspector general report made public Tuesday.

“When objectionable current flows on metal parts, it can cause electric shock and even death from ventricular fibrillation because of the elevated voltage,” the report said. “It can also cause a fire to ignite if combustible material is placed near the current. As a result, the life, health, and safety of department personnel occupying these buildings are at risk.”

The office building measured an electrical current up to 16.7 amps and the apartment building measured up to 27 amps. Only 10 amps can cause caridac arrest and severe burns. “At this level, death is probable,” the report said.

The office building became occupied in July, 2015, and residents moved in in February, 2016. The $800 million facilities can hold more than 900 employees and house nearly 300 residents.

The current “can also cause electromagnetic fields, which negatively affect the performance of electronic devices, including medical devices and security cameras,” the report said. “Improperly installed wiring is the likely cause of the objectionable current in both buildings.”

Army Corps of Engineers electricians found faulty wiring in at least one panel, but believe “other improper connections … exist but have yet to be located,” the report said.

The State Department issued an alert about dangerous electrical currents at embassies worldwide May 21, 2015, the IG said.

The State Department “did not concur that observed objectionable current poses a general problem for the occupants of the building,” the report said. Officials argued dangerous currents were “limited to locked and restricted mechanical and electrical rooms.”

Army Corps electricians, however, noted the dangerous current “may be present anywhere throughout the electrical system. There is no evidence that the risk is limited only to workers in restricted electrical and mechanical rooms,” the report said.

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