NEWS
17/10/2019 7:45 AM AEDT

Dutch Family Found Living In Secret Basement 'Waiting For End Of The World'

A 58-year-old man has been arrested after family of six discovered on a farm in Ruinerwold in the Netherlands.

Five siblings and a man believed to be their father have been discovered living in a secret room on a Dutch farm for nearly a decade while they waited for the “end of the days”.

The group was discovered near Ruinerwold, a village in the northern province of Drenthe, after the eldest brother wandered into a local bar 11 days ago and “ordered and drank five beers on his own”.

He returned a few days later looking scruffy and bewildered and said he had not been outside for nine years, Reuters reports. 

“You could see he had no idea where he was or what he was doing,” the cafe owner, Chris Westerbeek, told RTV Drenthe. “He said he had run away and that he urgently needed help.”

After police were called, the five, estimated at 18 to 25 years of age, and a man they identified as their ailing father, were found living in makeshift rooms inside the farm and survived partly on vegetables and animals from a secluded garden on the property.

“We found six people living in a small space in the house which could be locked, not a cellar. It is unclear if they resided there voluntarily,” local police said in a statement.

“They say they are a family, a father and five children,” police added.

REUTERS
A view of a remote farm where a family spent years locked away in a cellar, according to Dutch broadcasters' reports, in Ruinerwold, Netherlands October 15, 2019. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

Earlier, local Mayor Roger de Groot said a 58-year-old man, not the father of the children, had been arrested. His role was unclear.

Police confirmed they had arrested a man who was renting the farm but would not comment on his identity.

The Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad daily identified the man as “Joseph B.,” an Austrian carpenter.

Officials did not confirm local TV reports that the family may have held “end of days” apocalyptic beliefs.

The children’s mother had apparently died before they moved to the Dutch farm, the mayor said. None of the family members were registered as residents with the municipality, police said.

“I understand there are a lot of questions,” De Groot said. “We have many too. The police are investigating all possible scenarios.”