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Tomato fight!
Updated: 2005-09-01 11:49

It is said to be the world's largest tomato battle. Tens of thousands of people hurled truckloads of tomatoes at each other Wednesday, sending knee-deep rivers of tomato sauce down the streets of the small Spanish town of Bunol during its annual food fight — The Tomatina.

A reveller throws tomatoes to the photographer during the annual 'tomatina' tomato fight fiesta in the village of Bunol, 50 kilometers outside Valencia, Spain, Wednesday Aug. 31, 2005. Some 36,000 people took part in this year's Tomato fight using up to 100 tons of ripe tomatoes. The tomato fiesta was started in Bunol in 1944 and is held annually. [AP]

At noon, municipal trucks dumped about 130 tons of ripe, juicy plum tomatoes at the feet of adrenaline-charged crowds in town's main square. Within minutes the area was covered in red slime, and clouds of tomato sauce filled the air.

A rocket fired from a balcony signaled the fight's end one hour later, after which giddy participants hosed each other clean.

A record 40,000 people took part this year's Tomatina, held annually on the last Wednesday in August, city Major Fernando Giraldos said. It is said to be the world's largest tomato fight.

Local lore says it began in the mid-1940s with a food battle that broke out between youngsters near a vegetable stand on the town square in Bunol, 300 kilometers (190 miles) southeast of Madrid. The next year, they met again, this time pelting passers-by.