Dutch family found locked away after nine years in secret farmhouse room

Five siblings and a man believed to be their father are receiving medical treatment after Dutch police discovered them locked away in a secret room at an isolated farm, officials in the Netherlands say.

The five siblings, estimated at 18 to 25 years of age, and a man they identified as their ailing father were found near Ruinerwold, a village in the northern province of Drenthe.

“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, adding that the people may have been hidden away on the property for nine years.

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

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

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.

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

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

The children’s mother had apparently died before they moved to the farm, the mayor said.

Mr De Groot said the family was now, “in a safe place receiving appropriate care and attention”.

None of the family members were registered as residents with the municipality, police said.