Red Cross Receives Permission to Deliver Relief Supplies to Chechnya With AM-Russia-Chechnya, Bjt

GENEVA (AP) _ The Red Cross hopes to carry the first relief supplies into the capital of the embattled Chechnya region of Russia on Sunday if there is a lull in fighting.

The Russian and Chechen governments have granted permission for the supplies to enter Grozny, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Saturday.

Two aid convoys have been waiting in the regions of Dagestan, east of Chechnya, and Ingushetia, to the west. But heavy fighting has prevented them from entering Chechnya.

Two Red Cross officials managed to get into Grozny for a few hours early Saturday to assess the situation.

''The fighting is extremely dense in the center of the city and our officials found two hospitals completely abandoned,'' said Red Cross spokesman Paul-Henri Morard.

Medical supplies, blankets, food and plastic sheeting to replace shattered windows are urgently needed, Morard said.

Much of the city's 400,000 population fled before the fighting broke out but the ICRC believes some 100,000 people remain.

About 40,000 Russian soldiers entered the Caucasus Mountains territory on Dec. 11 to return the breakaway republic to Russian rule.