"I heard a deafening sound just as the plane took off," said 35-year-old Nabil Hashim, one of a handful of survivors of the crash on 25 December which claimed at least 141 lives. 

"Then the craft plunged into the sea. I passed out and when I came round I was floating near bodies," Hashim told AFP after his arrival back in Beirut. 

"At the moment of impact, I saw passengers thrown out of their seats ... and then slide towards me on the carpet, then nothing else," he said. 

Surrounded by bodies

"I came round still strapped in my seat, surrounded by bodies
and debris. I could undo my belt despite a pain in my shoulder and I swam towards the shore where Benin fishermen pulled me from the water." 

Hashim regarded himself as lucky to be alive despite fracturing his shoulder, as well as suffering cuts and bruises to his face, arms and legs. 

The passenger seated next to Hashim, Khodr Farhat, also sustained injuries to his lung and thorax but his life is not in danger. 

At least 141 perished in the
Benin plane crash

In contrast, the vast majority of passengers seated either in the front or middle of the plane were killed.

Eleven survivors, most of them Lebanese expatriates who had been heading home for the holidays, arrived early on Saturday in Beirut. 

They were flown back on a specially-adapted Middle Eastern Airlines plane, Lebanon's national carrier, accompanied by Lebanese Foreign Minister Jean Obeid. 

So far 21 survivors have been accounted for and 10 people are still missing.