Irma McLean sat nervously in her Northwest Washington living room last night, her arms clasped tightly across her chest, her face full of worry. She and her daughter, Joy, were listening to a special radio broadcast, hoping for news from home.

As the government of the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago tried to negotiate the release of its leaders by Moslem rebels, an estimated 10,000 Trinidadians living in the Washington area went begging for news of how the coup attempt was affecting friends and relatives in their homeland.

To help fill that need, Washington radio station WPFW-FM (89.3) has been airing special broadcasts dealing with the stalemate. Last night's program ran from 8 to 9:30.

"Right now people are in a quandary as to what's happening, because they are locked out from getting into Trinidad by telephone," said Von Martin, who was host of the program to which Irma and Joy McLean listened last night. "We're finding a lot of rumors being spread . . . and many people are feeling extremely frustrated at not getting the news."

McLean is one of the frustrated. "You feel good because you're hearing something, but you feel bad because you don't know if it's true or not," she said.

Conflicting reports of looting and gunfire caused the most concern yesterday. Many in the local Trinidadian community were afraid anarchy would break out, leaving their families and friends vulnerable to attack.

That possibility appeared to diminish last night as Prime Minister Arthur Robinson and the chief rebel negotiator announced that an agreement had been reached to end the four-day crisis.

Under the agreement, Robinson announced he will resign immediately, elections will be held within 90 days, and amnesty will be granted to the coup participants.

Because of the scarcity of news about conditions in Trinidad and Tobago, the tight-knit Trinidadian community here has formed an impromptu telephone network to pass along information, said Darryl Green, who works at the Islander Caribbean restaurant in Adams-Morgan.

"We've been getting a lot of calls, and everyone is grasping for information," he said. "I was notified by a telephone call before {the coup attempt} was out on the news. And I tried to call immediately and I couldn't get in touch with anyone."

Even those fortunate enough to get through are finding that information is hard to come by, because the rebels have seized the government-run radio and television facilities.

Grace Gomez, of Kensington, said that in a telephone conversation with her sister on the island, "It was apparent that I was conveying more of the information."

Many local Trinidadians said they are struggling to make sense of the political situation that led to the coup attempt back home.

"No matter how much people are disgruntled, they do not have a history of this kind of action," said Girard Johnson, of Bowie.

A former journalist in Trinidad and Tobago, Johnson said the rebel Moslem leader, Yasin Abu Bakr, has never enjoyed popular support in that country.