The September 11 attacks in 2001 left a horrifying death toll of nearly 3,000 people, while many would also go on to battle long-term health conditions as a result.
In the biggest terror attack of our time, 19 men hijacked four planes destined for America’s west coast – flying two into the Twin Towers, one into the Pentagon and another that crashed prematurely in Pennsylvania.
While more than 2,750 innocent people died in the World Trade Centre attacks, some would narrowly miss being caught up in the horror due to chance encounters and last minute decisions.
This included celebrities like Michael Jackson and Sarah Ferguson, while Gwyneth Paltrow unwittingly saved a fan’s life.
Here are the famous faces who dodged death on that fateful day.
Sliding Doors actress Gwyneth Paltrow experienced her own life-changing moment that morning when she unwittingly saved an office worker’s life.
Lara Lundstrom Clarke had been rollerblading along the Hudson river when she crossed over the road and jaywalked in front of Gwyneth’s silver Mercedes SUV.
Starstruck, she stopped to stare before moving out of the way, and that small delay caused Lara to miss her train to the World Trade Centre.
Instead of being sat at her desk on the 77th floor of the south tower, she was just getting off the train when she saw the plane crash into the north tower.
And 10 years later Lara got back in touch with Gwyneth, who admits the encounter “still gives me chills”.
“I can’t quite believe how many other people changed the course of strangers’ lives that day,” she said.
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Sarah Ferguson had a busy schedule planned for September 11, 2001, packed with meetings in New York.
She started with an interview with news anchor Matt Lauer at the NBC Studios, and was due to attend a meeting with her charity Chances for Children shortly afterwards.
The second appointment of the day was at the charity’s offices, on the 101st floor of the north tower of the World Trade Centre.
However after leaving NBC she got caught up in bad traffic, which meant she was set to be 20 minutes late for the meeting – and it saved her life.
The delay meant she wasn’t in the tower when the plane hit at 8.46am.
Fergie has spoken about her near-death experience and said it’s made her determined to make the most out of her life.
She told Hello magazine: “I take every minute as a blessing, I really do, and I really work hard at it.
“Because the minute you look too far forward, then you’re missing now. The minute you look back, you can’t go back. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.”
Nobody from Chances for Children died in the attack, however 700 employees from financial firm Cantor Fitzgerald, which rented the charity use part of their office for free, were killed.
Boston-born actor Mark Wahlberg was scheduled to fly on American Airlines Flight 11 from his home city to Los Angeles.
But at the last minute he and his friends had a change of heart and instead chartered a plane to a film festival in Toronto, Canada.
He later came under fire for suggesting he would have overpowered the terrorists if he’d been on the flight.
“If I was on that plane with my kids, it wouldn’t have went down like it did,” he told Men’s Journal.
“There would have been a lot of blood in that first-class cabin and then me saying, ‘OK, we’re going to land somewhere safely, don’t worry.'”
He subsequently apologised, admitting: “To speculate about such a situation is ridiculous to begin with, and to suggest I would have done anything differently than the passengers on that plane was irresponsible.
“I deeply apologize to the families of the victims that my answer came off as insensitive, it was certainly not my intention.”
Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane was also due to catch the same flight as Mark Wahlberg, but arrived late due to a hangover and a mix-up with his booking.
His travel agent incorrectly told him the 7.45am flight was due to leave at 8.15am, but when he arrived, boarding was already closed.
He was forced to wait for the next flight and, after failing to board the plane, had gone to the passenger lounge to sleep,
One hour later, he awoke to horrified screams as news of the attacks reached the airport – the plane had hit the north tower, killing everyone on board.
“I was booked on that flight and I was drinking the night before and hung over and I missed the plane by about 10 minutes. It was a very close call for me,” he said.
Actor Rob Lowe, known for his roles on The West Wing and Parks and Recreation, was caught up in a dummy run for the attacks just 11 days before the real thing.
He says nothing seemed unusual or suspicious when he caught his usual flight from Washington DC to Los Angeles after filming The West Wing.
But he later discovered he’d flown alongside the terrorists and was called to give evidence against attacker Zacarias Moussaoui.
“I flew with the 911 hijackers on the dry run, without realising. I was shooting The West Wing in DC at the time and I always took the flight that leaves Dulles to Los Angeles that they eventually put into the Pentagon,” he said.
“I made the flight a lot and I didn’t think anything of it. I got on the flight and it was packed, small plane.
“Looked around the cabin, don’t remember anything in particular, nobody looked scary, nobody looked like a terrorist. It looked like an absolutely normal flight.”
Michael Jackson could have been among the dead after the Twin Towers were hit – if it wasn’t for his mum.
The singer had been due to attend a meeting at the top of one of the sky-scrapers that very morning, but overslept after staying up late to talk to his mum, Katherine, and sister Rebbie.
“Thankfully, none of us had had a clue that Michael was due at a meeting that morning at the top of one of the Twin Towers,” Jermaine Jackson wrote in his biography, You Are Not Alone: Michael: Through a Brother’s Eyes.
“We only discovered this when mother phoned his hotel to make sure he was okay. She, Rebbie [Jackson] and a few others had left him there around 3am.
“‘Mother, I’m okay, thanks to you,'” he told her. ‘You kept me up talking so late that I overslept and missed my appointment.'”
Despite surviving one of the world’s biggest terrorist attacks, Michael died eight years later after suffering a cardiac arrest brought on by a prescription pill overdose.