Earlier last week, Patricia Hale said she had been optimistic that her husband would get out of Iraq safely.

Hale, of Spring, Tex., said then, "I really feel that everything is going to work out" for her husband and 34 other Americans being held in a Baghdad hotel.

Yesterday, after Iraq announced foreign nationals would be held until the Middle Eastern nation believed the threat of attack was over, Hale's confidence was shattered and her words came slowly, sometimes haltingly.

"Well, of course, I am distressed," she said. "To say I am distressed is an understatement. To see my husband denied the basic necessities of life . . . " Iraq also announced foreign nationals, including children, would share any shortage of food or medicine endured by Iraq citizens as a result of the economic embargo of Iraq.

Hale's voice trailed off and she paused. The words were not coming easily, she said. "I'd have to get my dictionary to know what I'm trying to say."

The disappearance Friday of the 35 Americans -- including 11 Texas oilmen -- who had been held in the Baghdad hotel and Iraq's claim that the U.S.-led embargo constituted an "act of war" deepened the anguish of many of their American relatives. It plunged many, like Hale, into fatalistic fears.

"I've been feeling that this would happened all along," said Linda Parker of Vidor, Tex., whose husband, Bobby Gene Parker, is one of the missing oilmen.

State Department officials told relatives of the men Friday that they believed the Iraqis had taken them to another hotel in Baghdad, but yesterday the officials said they were uncertain where the Americans were being held. Their relatives said they fear the worst.

"I was hoping he was being moved to the border," Parker said yesterday. "They were certain he wasn't. I was concerned they had taken him to one of these missile sites."

Her pessimism was echoed by the family of Charles Amos of Gilmer, Tex. "We're just really concerned about Dad," said Karen Amos, his daughter. "We knew it was coming at some point."

What Amos and many of the families said they feared coming were drastic actions as the embargo took hold in Iraq.

"I don't feel that it's President Bush to deliberately put these people at additional risk," said Patricia Hale. "I don't feel that he would be the one who is doing that. It is the Iraqi government."

Linda Parker said she believed that Iraqi President Saddem Hussein was "backed into a corner. His people need food. He's doing what he thinks he has to do for them."

Many of the families said they spent the day watching the Cable News Network, the 24-hour television news channel. Marjorie Walterscheid of Jacksboro, Tex., said she did not like one scene she saw: Bush playing golf at his Kennebunkport, Maine, vacation site and waving reporters away.

"I think he should be doing something other than playing golf and saying no comment," she complained. Her husband, Rainard Walterscheid, is one of the missing oilmen.

"I think he should show more concern to us {the relatives}," she said in a telephone interview. Some of those watching the president at the home of her daughter in law yesterday sought to assure her that Bush was golfing to show the Iraqi leaders that he was not consumed by the crisis.

"I don't care what they think," Walterscheid said. "I think he should care what we care . . . .

"I'm worried, I'm mad, I want my husband home now," she said. Asked how he should be returned, she replied: "I don't know and I don't care."

"It's a nightmare that doesn't end," Mary Trundy of Brockton, Mass., told the Associated Press. Her twin brother, John Stevenson, a computer specialist in Kuwait, escaped from Iran only hours before militants seized the U.S. Embassy in 1979 and now he was among the 2,500 Americans in Iraqi-occupied Kuwait. "It's just too much now, two times in a row."

The Rev. Edwin Davis, a retired Baptist minister in Koran, La., whose daughter, two grandchildren and Kuwaiti-born husband are also stranded there, criticized Bush. Davis, who said he has been pessimistic, said that the United States and Iraq must "negotiate some way . . . make some bargains with each other."

Edward Bazner of Palm Desert, Calif. -- whose son, Kevin, his British wife, Dawn, and their two small children, including a 5-month-old, were among those being held -- said his wife, Virginia, was willing to go to Baghdad to try to talk to Saddam to help win the family's freedom.

"May be if someone were to talk to him it could affect some change," Bazner said. "If they kill some of them -- it doesn't matter who -- there's going to be a war."

Bazner, like U.S. diplomats, said he was puzzled why the Iraqis "had lumped together" his son, a root beer salesmen who was passing through the Kuwait, with the oilmen and others.

State Department officials say they know the names of all 35 Americans, but citing the Privacy Act and other concerns, have declined to reveal their names.

Michael Saba, an Illinois businessman who escaped from Kuwait and has organized a support committee for the families, said yesterday he believes the overwhelming majority, perhaps 60 to 70 percent of Americans who remain trapped in Iraq and occupied Kuwait, were business executives.

"A surprisingly large number" of others are like the Bazner family, who happened to be passing through the country when they were trapped by the Iraqi invasion. The Bazners were on a British Airways jet that was trapped in Kuwait on a refueling stop when the fighting erupted, but Saba said he also received a call from one family whose daughter was bicycling across Iraq at the time of the invasion.

Saba also said he suspected the Iraqis detained the oilmen because they may have witnessed some of the early fighting along the border between Iraq and Kuwait and that the individuals taken from the British flight may have also seen fighting. The oil workers might also have been detained because they had skills Iraq might want to keep the Kuwaiti oil fields working, he said.

Saba said his committee wants the International Red Cross to see that the stranded Americans are protected under a Geneva convention for treatment of civilians during wartime. The Bush administration is thought unlikely to support the move because it would require acknowledging that a state of war exists.