The small group of buildings where a family group were discovered to be living in secluded conditions in Ruinerwold, 130 kilometres (80 miles) northeast of Amsterdam, Netherlands. Picture: RTL Netherlands via AP

Amsterdam - An Austrian man is suspected of imprisoning a family on an isolated farm in the Netherlands, authorities said on Wednesday.

The 58-year-old man, detained the previous day, is accused of false imprisonment. He was to appear before a judge on Thursday. The family is believed to have spent the past nine years at the residence.

The family, comprising six siblings aged 18 to 25 and their father, is believed to have lived on the farm near the village of Ruinerwold, in the eastern province of Drenthe, since 2010.

The family was discovered in a cellar at the farm after one of the sons sought help in a nearby pub earlier this week.

The Austrian man apparently rented the property and did repair work on it. He was reportedly detained initially on the allegation that he had refused to cooperate with the investigation.

An Austrian Foreign Ministry spokesman told dpa that the man had refused consular help from his home country.

Dutch media have reported that the family had been living in isolation as they awaited the "end of time."

Residents of the town were in shock, telling reporters that they had only ever seen a man at the property and were unaware of the family.

The farm is hidden behind trees and about 200 metres from the edge of town. According to reports, there was a large vegetable garden and goats, allowing the family to sustain itself.

dpa