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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 June 2006, 22:54 GMT 23:54 UK
Chechnya habitat 'ravaged by war'
Russian soldier standing in front of a burning Chechen oil refinery
Oil has damaged Chechnya's environment in peace and at war
Environmental agencies have warned that the Russian republic of Chechnya, devastated by war over the past 11 years, now faces ecological disaster.

They say unregulated development, and fighting between separatists and the Russian army, has destroyed Chechnya's rich natural habitat.

Rivers are badly affected, with widespread oil spills and pollution from sewers damaged by war.

There are also concerns over the impact of illegal logging in Chechen forests.

The World Wildlife Fund said illegal logging is destroying the republic's dense mountain forests.

Forest guards have died in areas around the capital, Grozny, because of large numbers of land mines, officials said.

"Environmental monitoring in Chechnya, especially in the rivers and other bodies of water, shows their terrible state, particularly due to leaking oil pipelines and a sewerage system that has not worked for years," a state environment official told the AFP news agency.

There is also concern over chemical and radioactive pollution, as a result of the bombardment of chemical laboratories during the conflict.

Figures compiled by Chechen doctors show a growing number of genetic abnormalities in babies and unexplained illnesses among schoolchildren.

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