Around 30,000 people descended on the Spanish town of Bunol on Wednesday to throw the fruit at anything that moved.

Residents and tourists joined in the fun and games as the fete passed off in an atmosphere of childish glee.

After pasting each other for an hour, the revellers headed off in search of a river on the outskirts of town to scrub themselves clean.

Massive clean-up

Meanwhile, the fire brigade moved in to hose down the mess in the streets.

Most nearby buildings got off lightly, however, having been prudently covered with canvas.

To aid the clean-up, the municipal authorities set up 300 showers near the square and surrounding cobbled streets.

"The Tomatina is just a fun event, where you can throw tomatoes in the street for an hour... while you forget all your cares"

Fernando Giraldos
Bunol mayor
 

Organisers also ensured ambulances were on hand at the zany celebration which goes back to 1945 and has survived several attempts to ban it.

Bunol mayor, Fernando Giraldos, braved the hail of soggy missiles to explain the point of all the amusement.

Fun event

"The Tomatina is just a fun event, where you can throw tomatoes in the street for an hour, alongside people of other nationalities, while you forget all your cares.

"Next year we'll have worked on making it even better so the people will enjoy it even more," he said.

The event has been recognised by Spain as a festival of international interest.

Bunol lore suggests it goes back to the 1940s when residents splattered an old man of modest musical talent.