Hessle film-maker who survived 9/11 attack recalls his lucky escape
FOR much of yesterday, he was glancing at his watch, wondering what he was doing at that moment ten years before.
Most people remember watching the horror unfold on television as two planes crashed into Twin Towers, forcing their collapse on September 11, 2001.
But for Hessle film-maker Paul Berriff, the memories are far more vivid.
He was in New York on the day al-Qaeda terrorists flew two airliners into the World Trade Centre.
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Mr Berriff was filming just 50 yards from the base of the building as the towers collapsed and he was knocked unconscious by debris.
Back in America as the world marked the tenth anniversary, he said: "It doesn't feel like ten years ago. I remember everything clearly.
"I was invited by the survivors' association to come over to New York for the anniversary, but I am filming undercover detectives in Arizona.
"I did take the family last autumn to the street in New York where I was knocked unconscious.
"I filmed the firefighters in New York just after the attack, doing a documentary on how they came to terms with it."
Mr Berriff, 65, will never forget the day it happened.
He said: "I had been filming for about 20 minutes.
"Suddenly, the south tower started to fall. There was a tsunami of debris hurtling towards us.
"I shouted at my colleagues to run.
"The noise of the building collapsing was horrendous.
"The next thing I remember was the camera leaving my hand in slow motion and then everything went black.
"I realised I had been knocked unconscious for about 25 minutes."
Mr Berriff found himself in a nightmare setting.
"I was crawling through all the debris," he said. "The air was filled with cement dust. It was up my nose, in my eyes, ears and mouth.
"I tried to make my way down to the river where I thought the air would be clearer.
"I came across a firefighter. I asked to use his air bottle but I got no answer. I realised he was dead.
"Everything was black and white and there was an eerie silence. I looked up the street. It was apocalyptic. I must have been the only living person there.
"I could see the skeleton of one of the towers ."
Mr Berriff, operations director for Humber Rescue, eventually managed to make his way back to his apartment and received hospital treatment.
The intrepid cameraman is no stranger to disaster.
He was on board the first rescue helicopter to reach the Piper Alpha inferno in the North Sea, which claimed 167 lives on July 6, 1988.
He said: "I have been in a helicopter crash, been blown off the side of a volcano and jumped off a sinking ship in the North Sea.
"But I now realise I witnessed one of the most significant events of our lifetime. I don't have nightmares and it doesn't haunt me, but I remember it all vividly.
"Of the 28 people around me that day, only half a dozen survived. I realise how close I had come to dying.
"I do now feel everyday problems seem insignificant and that you have to really live your life and enjoy it."