Republican presidential candidate Pat Robertson yesterday claimed that his Christian Broadcasting Network had known and announced the location of American hostages in Lebanon, a contention that immediately drew expressions of incredulity from the Reagan administration and challenges from other candidates and the former CBN reporter cited as his source.

It was the second consecutive day of challenges to Robertson's statements.

Tuesday he alleged that the campaign of Vice President Bush was involved in publicizing the scandal involving television evangelist Jimmy Swaggart.

Bush called that charge "crazy" and yesterday demanded an apology. But Robertson denied he had made the Bush accusation, despite videotape of his statements.

In a news conference yesterday in Atlanta, Robertson suggested that the White House should have rescued the hostages in Lebanon because his network knew their whereabouts and the administration could have known, too, by watching CBN news shows.

"We identified in our news department at CBN the location of those hostages in Lebanon very shortly after they were taken. And they were in a position where they could have been rescued," said the founder of the religious network, who resigned from it at the start of the campaign. "They were in Beirut, and they could have been freed."

At his news conference last night, President Reagan was asked about Robertson's claim, and responded that "it'd be very strange if he actually did have information as to the location of those hostages. . . . If he thought he knew, he kept it to himself," Reagan said.

Robertson, whose broadcast empire included an unlicensed television station in the Israeli-occupied buffer zone in South Lebanon and news bureaus in Beirut and Jerusalem, said later in a radio interview that "My reporters in Lebanon had information, initially, on where these hostages were taken."

Gary Lane, a Robertson spokesman, told the Associated Press that Robertson was referring to a report by Beirut bureau chief Gus Hashim during the Trans World Airlines hostage crisis in the summer of 1985.

Lane said Hashim "had information from sources where the hostages were being held in West Beirut and who was holding them."

Hashim denied this last night in an interview. He said he learned the identity of the plane's hijackers, which he told Robertson and which Robertson broadcast. "I knew nothing about the location of the hostages," he said. "If I did, I would have done what I could to help them."

When asked yesterday whether he had told administration officials about his information, Robertson said, "I broadcast it on national television. They monitor our programs virtually every day. Their speechwriters used to watch us to get some concepts for speeches."

Asked for comment, White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said, "Why didn't he tell us where they were?" And Bush said, "My question would be how come he didn't get a hold of the proper authorities in the government that are working day and night trying to figure out how to get these people out?"

Robertson made his remarks about the hostages in criticizing the Reagan administration's antiterrorism policies. He said U.S. policies "must be more like the Israelis at Entebbe. It has to be quick, and it has to be a surprise."

Robertson has made other controversial charges in recent days. He said during a debate in New Hampshire 10 days ago that Soviet nuclear missiles were in Cuba, an assertion that the administration hotly denied.

Bush challenged Robertson yesterday on the Swaggart allegation, demanding that "by sundown tonight" Robertson offer proof or apologize.

"This is the big league -- we're running for president of the United States -- a little different standard here than if you're involved in some precinct political action somewhere," the vice president added.

Rep. Jack Kemp (N.Y.), another GOP rival, issued a statement saying that Robertson's recent charges "can only be described as reckless." Kemp said he thought it inappropriate for Robertson "to try to make political advantage over the misfortunes of those {hostage} families. . . who wait week in and week out for news of their loved ones. . . . "

Robertson and his ties to the Middle East date at least to 1975, when he first traveled to Israel. Visiting Israeli officials were frequent guests on his "700 Club" talk show, and he had operated the television station in south Lebanon since April 1982.

The station, known as Middle East Television, was given to CBN by another religious broadcaster, George Otis of High Adventure Ministries in California. It is located in Marjayoun, a town near the Golan Heights that is controlled by the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army.

Otis said in his book "Voice of Hope" that he started a radio station by that name in South Lebanon in 1979 after being challenged by Israeli officials to help his Christians brothers there.

Staff writers David Hoffman and T.R. Reid contributed to this report.