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Competitors in Hong Kong race up 14-metre-high bun tower

WATCH: People raced up a bun tower in Hong Kong on Tuesday, trying to collect as many of the traditional desserts as they could as part of celebrations to mark the end of the Cheung Chau bun festival.

Thousands of local residents and tourists flocked to an outlying island in Hong Kong on Tuesday to celebrate a local bun festival despite the recording-breaking heat.

Contestants took part in a bun-scrambling competition, where they raced up a 14-metre (46-foot) bamboo tower after midnight (Wednesday) to snatch as many plastic buns as possible.

Buns that are higher up are worth more points but contestants need to have both feet on the ground at finishing time or risk disqualification.

This year’s male champion was Kwok Ka-ming, while Wu Wing-yu won the women’s contest.

WATCH: Hot cross buns from Vancouver’s Beaucoup Bakery

Hot cross buns from Vancouver’s Beaucoup Bakery
Hot cross buns from Vancouver’s Beaucoup Bakery

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

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

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.

In 1978, the bun-snatching contest on the island was cancelled after a bun tower collapsed injuring 100 people.

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Officials revived the tradition in 2005, as part of an annual “bun festival,” with improved safety measures including a sturdier tower.

Bun snatchers also began receiving mountaineering training.

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