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The sheer weight of torrential rain brought by Hurricane Harvey has caused Houston to sink by two centimetres, a geophysicist says.

The storm brought five consecutive days of rain, with nearly 52 inches in one location.

Water weighs about a ton per cubic metre and the flooding was so widespread that it “flexed Earth’s crust”, according to Chris Milliner, a postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology.

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It was the heaviest tropical downpour ever recorded in the US, causing billions of dollars worth of damage.

Louisiana is going to face 'drenching rains' for most of Wednesday

Image: Around 60 people died due to Harvey

The US Senate has now overwhelmingly backed a $ 15.25bn aid package for victims of Harvey, which will now go to the House of Representatives for final congressional approval.

The fund includes $ 7.4bn for the Disaster Relief Fund at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, $ 450m for businesses and $ 7.4bn for housing.

The torrential rains also caused two explosions at a Texas chemical plant 25 miles northeast of Houston, for which emergency services are suing.

Plumes of smoke filled the air causing several people, including 15 police deputies, to be taken to hospital after inhaling the fumes.

Emergency service members are suing the Arkema chemical group for negligence as they were never told about the dangers of the smoke, according to their lawyers.

Arkema plant in Crosby near Houston

Image: Arkema plant in Crosby near Houston

Officials initially described the fumes from the blaze as “incredibly toxic” but later backed away and assured locals the smoke posed no immediate threat to their health.

Harvey claimed at least 60 lives and caused property damage estimated to be as much as $ 180bn in Texas and Louisiana.

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The US is now braced for Hurricane Irma, which has already claimed at least 10 lives as it swept through the Caribbean.

The category five storm could reach Florida this weekend, with thousands of residents already beginning to evacuate.

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