Family found living in secret room 'waiting for the end of time'

A family of six are receiving medical treatment after police discovered them locked away in a secret room at an isolated farm, authorities say.

Several children, aged 18 to 25, and their ailing father were found near Ruinerwold, a Dutch village in the northern province of Drenthe, local Mayor Roger de Groot said.

They had apparently had no contact with the outside world for nine years.

De Groot said there were six children, but according to police, one of the family members was the father.

Police said a seventh person, a 58-year-old man who was not the father of the children and whose role is unclear, was arrested at the farm.

Photo of the Dutch farm where a father and six children had been living in a cellar. Source: AAP

“The arrested man concerns the tenant of the building. We do not yet know what the relationship is with the other people. This is part of our research. He is locked in for interrogation and is still detained,” a police statement read.

De Groot said it was his understanding the mother of the children “died before they arrived there”.

“Police found makeshift living quarters where the family was living in hiding.”

The family, who according to local news reports had been waiting for the end of time, was discovered after one of the siblings escaped and sought help at a nearby cafe.

The siblings and their father, who was reportedly bedridden after a stroke, have since been collected and are receiving treatment at an undisclosed location, the mayor said.

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

The siblings had apparently lived in a hidden cellar and survived on vegetables grown in a secluded garden and animals caught nearby, local TV RTV Drenthe reported.

An aerial photo of a house where the family were trapped. Source: Getty Images

Local bar owner Chris Westerbeek told broadcaster RTV Drenthe that he called police after a man "with a confused look in his eyes," with unkempt hair, a long beard and old clothes walked in to his bar and ordered five beers for himself.

"He said where he came from, that he'd run away and that he needed help urgently," Westerbeek said.

De Groot said the police investigation is looking into "all possible scenarios," but didn't elaborate.

He said the family was now "in a safe place receiving appropriate care and attention."

Police said a Large Scale Investigation Team (TGO) had been engaged and would assess “possible criminal offences under the leadership of the Public Prosecution Service”.

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