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- 54-year-old Austrian man and family of six were discovered living in an abandoned wine cellar
- Firearms found in the cellar
- Family may have fled police prior to discovery, surveillance cameras and children’s voices heard
- Cellar was renovated with doors, windows, water and electricity
- Children taken into care to prevent any similar case to Josef Fritzl
- Difficulty in proving identity of the children, no records for births
- Police investigating further to understand why the family chose to remain in the cellar, how long they were living there and how they were financed
Discovery of Austrian Family Hiding in Cellar
Authorities in the small village of Orbritz in Austria discovered a 54-year-old Austrian man and his wife living in an abandoned wine cellar with their family of six children under the age of five.
The discovery was made after the man allegedly attacked social services and resisted state authority outside the illegal hideout.
Police were then able to locate the family and extract them from the cellar.
They found multiple firearms inside and are now working to confirm legal ownership.
The man is suspected to be Austrian, but had been working in Britain, and there had been reports the family had fled police prior to the discovery.
Surveillance cameras were found outside the cellar and children’s voices heard nearby, suggesting that the family had been living there for several months.
The cellar had been renovated to make it more comfortable, with doors, windows, water, and electricity installed.
However, authorities deemed the state of sanitation inadequate and not suitable for children.
Karl-Josef Weiss, Hollabrunn District Governor, said the children appear to have been neither locked up nor neglected and have since been taken into care by welfare officers to prevent any similar case to Josef Fritzl, an Austrian who held his daughter captive in a basement dungeon for 24 years where she had seven of his children.
This is due to the difficulty in proving the identity of the children, as according to Austrian law, births must be registered with the authorities but there were no records for the children.
Their parents claimed the children had been born in England and it is still unclear whether the children have British citizenship.
The man was later released on Thursday evening after prosecutors determined he posed no risk to any of the children.
It has since been suggested he had bought up to five cellars in the village and police sources have played down local media reports suggesting he had links to the right-wing extremist group Reichsbürger.
The case has sparked fear and raised a multitude of questions.
Police are now investigating further to understand the reasons as to why the family chose to remain in the cellar, as well as how long the family were living there and how they were financed.
The legal ownership of the firearms that were discovered in the cellar is also being investigated.
Details of the case continue to emerge as the investigation progresses.
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