A NORTH Yorkshire man who was caught up in “apocalyptic scenes” at the base of the Twin Towers on 9/11 today revealed how the events of that day changed him forever.

Paul Berriff, 75, spoke out on the 20th anniversary of the day that shook the world.

He revealed how he only survived the collapse of the World Trade Centre by a “miracle”.

And how the horrifying events in New York two decades ago affected him, saying he no longer gets stressed about life as “you just don’t know what may happen”.

Paul, a documentary filmmaker and fine arts photographer, was working in New York in 2001 on a series for American television channel, Animal Planet, at the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruetly to Animals) office when he, his sound recordist Lou Lou Machin and assistant producer Becky Colleen first heard that a plane had hit the towers. They assumed it was a small aircraft which often flew above the city.

York Press: Paul Berriff at Ground Zero

Paul, who was 55 at the time, said: “As we drove down to go film it, bearing in mind at the time nobody knew the towers would collapse, we could see black smoke and flames everywhere, distressed people running away, little black specs coming off the towers which were people jumping from the upper floors.

“After a quarter of an hour of filming at the base of the south tower I heard a loud explosion. The south tower collapsed like an umbrella of debris descending from 420 metres high, I could hear the firefighters shouting for everyone to run.

“I heard a terrific roar like a dozen jumbo jet engines. I kept the camera rolling and ran for 100 feet, then everything went black, the most pitch black I’ve ever seen, and a sound like a giant swatter.”

York Press: Paul Berriff surveys Ground Zero

Paul, from Northallerton, was unconscious for 28 minutes, and awoke to “an apocalyptic scene” - a street littered with smashed cars and bent over trees. He said it looked like someone had tipped over a child’s toy box and covered everything in debris, with parts of the Twin Towers embedded in the road - as well as Lou Lou’s smashed sound mixer.

“As the ash descended everything looked monochrome, I was very hot and was struggling to breathe as my mouth was full of debris and pasty stuff and I used my fingers to try get it out.”

He crawled his way back to his apartment, following the cars with his hands as his visibility was reduced, and he was reunited with Lou Lou and Becky – Lou Lou had been saved by a fireman, and Becky had sheltered in a post office.

Paul’s hair was matted with blood, with a three inch gash at the back of his head, and he was taken to hospital to be treated in the decontamination unit - thankfully the injury hadn’t penetrated his skull.

York Press: A still from Paul’s film of the 9/11 attack

“The nurses had cut my clothes off me, I sat in a white paper suit eating a roast dinner with Yorkshire puddings at the hospital and my wife came to collect me, watching the smoke still drifting from the tower.”

Paul added: “It depended on which way you ran if you survived. I feel you shouldn’t take life for granted. I am a lot more laid back, I never get stressed. You just don’t know what may happen. I am more wary of things as something could happen in a flash.”

His footage made it into the ITV documentary ‘9/11: The Firefighters’ story’, produced a year after the attack.