Authorities in the Netherlands have opened an investigation after a family was found living isolated in a cellar because they were expecting the “end of time” to occur.
Officials became involved when the parents of a family living in the cellar of an isolated farmhouse near the town of Ruinerwold were flagged for not sending their children to school.
The police were called to the home after a young member of the family was found wandering “confused” and “unkempt” outside a pub in Ruinerwold. The young man was said to have “never been to school.”
“He said he needed help and wanted to put an end to the situation he was in,” Chris Westerbeek, the pub’s owner, told the the Dutch news outlet, Dagblad Noorden.
Westerbeek added that the young man snuck out of the home in the middle of the night because he was closely watched during the day.
When police arrived at the farmhouse, they discovered a secret staircase hidden behind a cupboard in the living room that led them to the living space underneath the house.
Authorities discovered that the family had been living in the “enclosed space” for up to seven years and were cloistered there because they expected a cataclysm to befall the world.
A neighbor told the Dutch newspaper that he did not even know that there was more than just the one person he ever saw living on the property.
Authorities found that the family had created a self-sustaining vegetable farm and needed almost no contact with the outside world.
Officials are still investigating and trying to ascertain the familial relationships between the seven people found living in the cellar.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.