The 62,000-tonne cargo ship was transporting 2,394 containers, whose contents included 1,700 tonnes of hazardous industrial and agricultural chemicals.

  

French officials said a long oil slick had spilt from the vessel into the English Channel.

 

The Napoli was being hauled by two French tug boats, whose progress was hampered by rough seas and the cargo ship's jammed rudder.

 

Calmer weather meanwhile returned to Europe on Saturday but tens of  thousands of homes in England, Germany and apparently Poland were  still without power.

  

Around 19,000 households in eastern England had no electricity.

 

In Germany, where the storms claimed 11 lives, around 12,000 of  the 60,000 homes whose power was cut were still in the dark, 10,000  of them in the central state of Thuringia.

   

German rail services were largely back to normal after the appalling weather forced the Deutsche Bahn national railway company on Thursday to suspend all services for the first time in its history.

  

In Poland - where the storms killed six and injured 30, including nine emergency service workers - it was unclear how many households were still in the dark.

  

"There is no information on the number of homes still without electricity this morning but on Friday afternoon, 800,000 were without power," Dariusz Malinowski, fire brigade spokesman, told AFP.

  

The new terminal of Warsaw's Okecia airport, which had been damaged, remained partially closed.