A family who spent nine years in a basement “waiting for the end of time” have been discovered by police in the Netherlands after the eldest son turned up at a local pub, reports say.
A man, 58, and his six children – aged 16 to 25 – were living at a farm in the northern province of Drenthe.
They were found after the son ordered beer at a bar in the nearby village of Ruinerwold, and then told staff he needed help, broadcaster RTV reported.
Witnesses said the man looked confused.
His family had been living in isolation waiting for the end of time, RTV reported.
“He ordered five beers and drank them. Then I had a chat with him and he revealed he had run away and needed help… then we called the police,” bar owner Chris Westerbeek told the broadcaster.
He added: “He had long hair, a dirty beard, wore old clothes and looked confused. He said he’d never been to school and hadn’t been to the barber for nine years.”
“He said he had brothers and sisters who lived at the farm. He said he was the oldest and wanted to end the way they were living.”
Officers visited the remote farmhouse and carried out a search. They discovered a hidden staircase behind a cupboard in the living room that led down to a basement room where the family were housed.
Ruinerwold is a village with a population of less than 3,000. The farm is outside the village and is accessible by a bridge over a canal.
The farm, which is part-hidden behind a row of trees, also had a large vegetable plot and a goat.
A neighbour told Dutch media that he had only ever seen one man on the farm and no children and that there had been animals on the grounds of the farm, such as geese and a dog.
The local postman said he had never posted a letter there. “It’s actually pretty strange, now I come to think about it,” he told Algemeen Dagblad news website.
People in the area tweeted the news and one reporter posted images of the farmhouse, saying he had been asked to keep at a distance.
Police in Drenthe confirmed that a 58-year-old man had been arrested and was under investigation after refusing to co-operate.
“Yesterday someone reported to us [that they were] worried about the living conditions of people in a house in Buitenhuizerweg in #Ruinerwold,” they wrote in a tweet. “We went there.”
“We still have many unanswered questions,” they said, adding that all scenarios were open and their investigation was fully under way.
The farmhouse and the surrounding grounds were cordoned off.
It was unclear how long the family had been in the basement or what had happened to the children’s mother. Some reports suggested the father had suffered a stroke and had been confined to his bed.
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