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Thousands join Hong Kong bun-snatching festival

The event started about 100 years ago after a deadly plague devastated the island.

Residents and tourists have flocked to an outlying Hong Kong island to celebrate a local bun festival despite recording-breaking heat.

The festival features a parade with children dressed as deities floated on poles.

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Villagers perform a lion dance during a parade in front of the bun towers on the outlying Cheung Chau island in Hong Kong (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Later on Tuesday, contestants were to take part in a bun-scrambling competition.

They will race up a 46-ft bamboo tower to snatch as many plastic buns as possible. Buns that are higher up are worth more points.

It is one of the oldest and most colourful festivals in Hong Kong and started about 100 years ago after a deadly plague devastated the island.

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A child dressed in a traditional Chinese costume floats in the air at the Bun Festival (Kin Cheung/AP)

Villagers built an altar in front of the Pak Tai temple imploring the deities for help and used white steamed buns as offerings to drive away the evil spirits, according to local tradition.

The bun-snatching contest on the island of Cheung Chau was cancelled after a bun tower collapsed in 1978, injuring 100 people.

Officials revived the tradition in 2005, part of an annual “bun festival,” this year with improved safety measures.

Workers built a sturdier tower and bun snatchers received mountaineering training.

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