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Locals hurl fireballs in El Salvador

Saturday, September 01, 2012 - 01:02

Sep. 1 - Revelers in El Salvador hurl fireballs at each other as part of a decades long tradition marking the explosion of a nearby volcano. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)

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ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION Young men throwing fiery, gasoline-soaked rags at one another in the streets is not usually a religious rite; but in El Salvador the practice has become an annual occasion. Locals in the town of Nejapa, located some 30 kilometres (18 miles) north of San Salvador, gather every August 31 to hurl fireballs at one another in honour of a huge volcanic eruption in 1658 that forced all of the residents to abandon the town. Urban legend has it the festival has been a tradition for some one hundred years. In a religious twist to the celebrations, locals say the fireballs are used because the hot lava that flowed from the volcano was actually the local Christian Saint Jeronimo fighting the devil with balls of fire. In a modern manifestation of the celebration, opposing groups launch palm-sized fireballs at each other whilst onlookers throng streets to cheer on the fire throwers. Over the years the local tradition has become a major tourist drawcard for the small town. Authorities fear the festival might one day get out of hand because there are no rules, but despite the apparent dangers, few serious injuries have been reported.

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Locals hurl fireballs in El Salvador

Saturday, September 01, 2012 - 01:02