Breaking news for six people in the Netherlands: the world is still here. It didn’t end in 2010.
Authorities say they’ve rescued a family who spent nine years in isolation at a Dutch farmhouse while reportedly waiting for the apocalypse. The family had been living entirely off the grid and was not known to police or residents of the nearby village of Ruinerwold.
Their story spread widely after one of them left the farm and ventured into the nearby village for help on Sunday.
The mystery man walked into a pub wearing dated clothes and sporting a long, unkempt beard, according to the pub’s owner, Chris Westerbeek. The man told Westerbeek that he and his family had been “waiting for the end of days” at their farm, where they spent most of their time in an isolated room and lived off livestock and a small vegetable garden.
The man said he and his four younger siblings had barely seen the outside world. They ranged in age from 18-25, and were living at the farm with their father.
“He said he was the oldest and wanted to end the way they were living,” Westerbeek told the Dutch media.
Police later visited the farm and said the father had suffered a stroke. It’s believed the mother died some time ago.
Ruinerwold Mayor Roger de Groot said the family had been living an “isolated lifestyle” on a property surrounded by trees and set back from the road. He added that several of the siblings’ births were never registered with the municipality.
“I have never come across anything like this before,” de Groot said at a news conference on Tuesday.
A 58-year-old man has been questioned in connection with the case. Local media have identified him as a handyman who paid rent on the property, but it’s unclear what he is being accused of.
“We still have a lot of unanswered questions,” police spokesperson Grietje Hartstra said. “There is a lot of speculation in the media about what happened, but as police we have to deal with the facts.”
Authorities have not commented on reports that the family held apocalyptic beliefs.
The wild circumstances of the story have already triggered intense reactions online. Many have speculated about how the family became isolated. Others simply compared the case to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a Netflix comedy series about a woman adapting to the world after living in a bunker with a doomsday cult for several years.
Neighbour Roelie van Dijk told Reuters that the family lived in a hidden-away area that made it easy for them to avoid notice.
“It’s possible here,” she said. “You see it can happen anywhere, not only in a big city but also in the countryside. And perhaps even more in the countryside, where you can hide completely.”
She added that she’s seen a man drive up to the property several times over the years to do construction work, but he never spoke to van Dijk or her husband.
“We tried to make contact, my husband just last week, with the man in the car…(But) he drove on,” she said. “He went through the gates and locked them again.”
The family is currently receiving medical treatment.
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