KOLKATA: A 450-kg American-made World War II aerial bomb capable of causing massive damage to life and property within a 500-metre radius was found near Kolkata Port during dredging operations on Friday.
The port authorities contacted Kolkata Police and the Navy, who might seek help from an ordnance factory and might even seek expert advice from the Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam to defuse the 75-year-old bomb and preserve its shell.
Kolkata Port Trust Chairman Vinit Kumar said that the 4.5-metre-long bomb was first thought to be a torpedo, but the Navy later confirmed that it was an aerial bomb. West Bengal naval in-charge Commodore Suprobho Kumar De said the bomb does not pose any immediate danger as it has several security locks affixed and needs to be dropped from a certain height for impact. Nevertheless, the entire port area was cordoned off after the bomb was discovered.
Kolkata and other airfields of south Bengal were extensively used as bases by the United States Air Force during World War II to supply the Republican Chinese troops fighting the Japanese in China through the treacherous route over the Himalayas after Burma was overrun by the Japanese in 1942.
The city, including the port, was targeted by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force in multiple night bombing raids throughout 1942 and 1943, taking a heavy toll on the city's landscape and lives and etching memories of the raids and the blackouts among the city residents, who carried it forward through several generations as oral history.