ATLANTA, NOV. 24 -- Cuban prisoners armed with homemade knives and machetes released two hostages today but continued to hold at least 73 more inside the smoldering federal penitentiary here, ignoring the government's offer of a moratorium on deportations if the 2-day-old riot ends immediately.

But the Associated Press, quoting a U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokesman in Washington, D.C., said that an additional 25 persons were taken hostage in the penitentiary hospital tonight. The number of hostages at the penitentiary here is believed to stand at 94, AP quoted bureau of prisons spokesman Sylvia Simons. At the same time, there were indications that five additional hostages were freed by rioting Cuban inmates. Simons told AP that she was informed that five hostages left the prison "with the consent of the detainees."

At an early afternoon briefing, Warden Joseph Petrovsky said, "Quite frankly, the negotiations are at a standstill."

But at 10:30 p.m., police radios crackled with a report that inmates were ready to negotiate. According to one account, Cuban prisoners are willing to release some hostages to show good faith, demanding as an intermediary either a Spanish-speaking journalist or Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a civil rights veteran, who officials have so far barred from the prison grounds.

At the federal detention center in Oakdale, La., where about 1,000 Cuban inmates have held 28 hostages since Saturday, federal officials tried a new tactic today, turning off the water and electricity in an effort to break the siege.

"Our biggest hope is to wear them down," Rep. Clyde Holloway (R-La.) said after walking the center's perimeter.

Relatives of the Atlanta and Oakdale inmates appealed publicly to the prisoners to free their hostages and give up. Five relatives met today in Washington, D.C., with Associate Attorney General Stephen S. Trott, who promised that each inmate's immigration status would be reviewed before any Cubans are repatriated under a U.S.-Cuban agreement revived last week.

"Please let them go. We're begging you as your families," said Elida Dominguez of Miami, an American citizen whose Cuban husband, Barbaro, is an inmate in Atlanta. She said Justice Department officials promised no reprisals, "but only if this stops right now."

Information about the rebellion was scarce in both places. In Atlanta, Warden Petrovsky confirmed the death of an unidentified Cuban inmate shot in the head -- the same death confirmed Monday by Fulton County officials. But he could not confirm day-old reports that as many as five more inmates have died.

At least 15 Cubans and six prison staffers have been injured, according to prison officials and area hospitals. The two hostages freed today were both prison guards, one suffering from high blood pressure, the other complaining of chest pains.

At least 315 inmates, mostly Americans housed in a separate wing and some Cubans, turned themselves in to prison officials today. As darkness fell, many wearing handcuffs and leg irons were hustled into buses and driven away.

The inmates here requested Polaroid cameras and film, then snapped photos of all but three hostages and dispatched them to federal officials as proof of their safety. "To the best of our knowledge, they are not being mistreated," Petrovsky said.

As long as that was the case, officials pledged no armed assault by Federal Bureau of Investigation special weapons and tactics (SWAT) teams armed with automatic weapons and 12-gauge pump shotguns. "Common sense tells us as long as the hostages are not being mistreated and we're making headway, we're going to negotiate this thing out," Petrovsky said.

Talks have been stalemated since early Monday morning when officials discovered at least 12 Cuban factions inside that could not agree among themselves. "With each new group," Petrovsky said, "there is a new set of demands."

The mood inside the 83-year-old prison, where four buildings were gutted in Monday's fires, remained tense. At one point, a police scanner, monitored outside the walls by an inmate's son, carried the voice of a nervous rioter threatening to toss hostages from a five-story building if an FBI SWAT team came closer.

"If they come in here, throw 'em down! Throw 'em down, throw 'em down!" he barked.

Relatives of prison guards and inmates gathered outside, desperate for news. "I'm worried about everything," said Lazaro Lopez, 17, whose father is serving a sentence for a drug conviction. Lopez borrowed the scanner from a local radio station and was interpreting transmissions from inside the prison.

"I'm worried about the detainees fighting each other and the guards shooting someone," he said.

Among the inmates' demands, Petrovsky said, was his "personal guarantee" that they would never be returned to Cuba. "I cannot in good faith make that guarantee," Petrovsky said, although he promised no physical reprisals if they surrendered.

Some officials here appeared edgy about reports that a convicted American murderer, serving three consecutive life terms for killing an inmate and a prison guard, was roaming the prison and possibly acting as adviser to the Cubans.

Thomas Silverstein, who describes himself as a "berserko," has spent the last four years alone in a high-security cell. "Silverstein is their No. 1 hombre, even though he's not a Cuban," a prison official told the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. "They feel he has stood up to the prison system."

Janet Lugo, one inmate's wife, said she received three telephone calls Monday night from her husband, who blamed guards for starting the riot. "The guards began harassing them, telling them they were going back to Cuba, that they were undesirables," she said.

Attorney General Edwin Meese III offered a moratorium Monday on deporting "excludable" refugees -- former mental patients in Cuba and those convicted of crimes here or in Cuba -- among the 125,000 Cubans who arrived in the 1980 Mariel boatlifts. The United States and Cuba had announced an agreement Friday to resume such deportations, which were suspended in 1985 by Cuban President Fidel Castro in protest to U.S.-controlled radio broadcasts in Cuba.

Trott, briefing reporters after his 80-minute meeting with five inmate relatives, said that the agreement "will remain in full force and effect, that there will be people who we will return." But he reiterated what Meese promised Monday: that Cubans on the list will receive a "full, complete hearing with no preordained outcome up our sleeve."

Trott said department officials urged the women to "convey . . . a sense that the Department of Justice is serious, we are taking into consideration {the inmates'} legitimate concerns . . . and it can only hurt their situations to continue this."

Trott said "we have promised . . . that we will take into consideration the crimes that were committed by the people involved, their family situation, any changes of circumstance, any things we might have missed, any mistakes that might have been made."

But he cautioned that "changing circumstances may change the situation . . . . We're pleased that none of the hostages have been hurt, and we expect that it will remain that way, but there's no telling where we will be next week."

Responding to a question, Trott said "it's not going to be fruitful at this time to discuss" whether the State Department gave prison and immmigration officials adequate warning about the agreement. "That's something that we can get into at a later date," Trott said.

Privately, however, Justice Department officials complained that the State Department informed Meese only hours before holding a news conference Friday to announce the renewed agreement. And the warden at the Oakdale detention center, J.R. Johnson, said today that the hour's warning he was given was not enough to prevent the riots that began there and spread to Atlanta.

State Department spokesman Phyllis E. Oakley said Monday that "negotiations to restore implementation of the migration agreement required the utmost discretion." She said the Justice Department did not know that talks had progressed so far.

About 80 relatives traveled overnight on two chartered buses from Miami to Washington. "I think we helped," said Milagros Gonzalez, who husband is an Oakdale inmate. "I guess they'll be seeing this on TV and see they have to stop."

In Atlanta tonight, inmates' wives went on the radio to beg their spouses to surrender.

Four days after the inmates gained control of the Oakdale facility, negotiations apparently had advanced only slightly today. An inmate nicknamed Angel still seemed to be acting as a spokesman, but sources close to the federal negotiating team questioned his power in the fractured prison population.

The only new development was the arrival from Florida of Tomas Garcia-Fuste, a radio personality who is considered the voice of Cuban Miami. Garcia-Fuste said he entered the negotiations at the FBI's request. The hostages were in good shape, he said, but he added that he was concerned by the sight of "all these crazy guys walking around with hammers and sticks."

Staff writers David Maraniss in Oakdale, La., and Ruth Marcus in Washington contributed to this report.