Dutch police discovered a family of seven living in a farmhouse basement and waiting for the world to end, the BBC reported Tuesday. The family allegedly spent nine years in the basement and were only found after one family member escaped.
According to local news outlet RTV, a 58-year-old man was living with six siblings, aged 18 to 25, on a farm in the Drenthe province. The oldest of the siblings escaped from the basement on Sunday evening, asking staff at a pub in nearby Ruinerwold for help.
The owner of the bar, Chris Westerbeek, said the man was unkempt and looked confused.
Wilbert Bijzitter / ANP / AFP / Getty Images
“He ordered five beers and drank them,” Westerbeek told local media. “Then I had a chat with him and he revealed he had run away and needed help… Then we called the police.”
“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,” Westerbeek said.
Mayor Roger de Groot said the man living with the children is not their father nor the owner of the farmhouse. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” he told local reporters. The family is in “a safe place” now, he said.
The mayor also said their mother is believed to have died before the family moved into the house.
The names of the family members have not been released by authorities and it is unclear how they are related to the man. He has been arrested after failing to cooperate with the investigation.
According to Dutch media, the family had no contact with the outside world and was entirely self-sufficient, living off a vegetable garden and a few animals. The children were not registered and neighbors believed only one man lived alone on the farm.
The children had no idea that there were other people in the world, RTV reports.
Local law enforcement confirmed they went to the house after receiving concerned reports from neighbors, sending a large team to investigate. They found a hidden staircase that led to a basement where the family was kept.
The investigation is ongoing, police said. In an update Tuesday, authorities said they are looking into possible criminal offenses.