A large empty barge plying on the Ganges got stuck under the Howrah Bridge and brought traffic in western parts of Kolkata to a complete halt on Friday.
The freak accident involving one of the world busiest bridges that connects Kolkata with the Howrah railway station occurred after the barge was caught in a sudden high tide.
As the ship, on a small journey on the Ganges, approached the bridge, its mast got stuck.
The sight of a ship caught under a bridge brought thousands of curious onlookers who jammed the Howrah Bridge, also known as a Rabindra Setu.
Soon, police closed down the bridge, inconveniencing thousands of commuters and passengers travelling to the Howrah Railway station.
Ship engineers were called in, who then began chopping off a part of mast with gas-cutters.
"The ship would be freed soon and the situation would be normal again by the evening," a police official said.
British colonialists built the Howrah Bridge, considered an achievement of nineteenth century bridge engineering and technology, in 1874.
For technical reasons, a portion of the bridge was made in England and shipped to Kolkata, where it was assembled on the site.
It was described at the time as a structure of much novelty and originality in its design, execution and materials.
Its length is 1528 feet between abutments, and at that time it cost about Rs. 6 million.