The terrorists' demand is the independence of Chechnya. It may sound simple - but it's not. (An obvious question is what people like that would make of that independence, even if it was possible...)
Yesterday, there was a rumor that all the male hostages had been killed already. Then the authorities denied it.
Today, even the AP and Reuters, not just gazeta.ru and other Russian dailies, are reporting that there may be over a thousand hostages in there (not 350). 1,500 people is one figure. The relatives outside are updating their lists. Here's one quote:
They are giving us this low figure (of hostages). If troops storm the building, the government won't have to say that it killed a 1,000 people," Fatima Kanukova, whose nephew is among the hostages, said.
Izvestiya said 860 pupils attended School No.1 in Beslan, North Ossetia. But the number of people on the campus would have been swelled by parents and relatives attending the first day ceremony traditional in Russian schools.
I wish these were just signs of panic - but when reporters go live from Beslan, the crowd on the background doesn't look demented, no one is running up to reporters and shout things. That would have been edited out anyway, of course, but there'd still be some indications...