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Images emerge from 'house of horror'

  • Story Highlights
  • Austrian father confesses he held daughter prisoner for nearly 24 years
  • First images emerge of the cellar dungeon in which she, three children held
  • The rooms include a sleeping quarters, a kitchen and a bathroom
  • Police are still trying to understand the purpose of all the rooms in the cellar
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(CNN) -- The building in Amstetten, eastern Austria, seems innocuous enough. But it is underneath this family home --- now known as "the house of horror" -- that a woman was held for nearly 24 years by her father and repeatedly raped, giving birth to seven children as a result.

The bathroom used by the woman, who was held captive for more than two decades, and her three children.

Now the first images have begun to emerge of the series of rooms in which 73-year-old man Josef Fritzl says he imprisoned his daughter, and three of her surviving children, in a basement 50-60 meters square that he converted himself.

Police and authorities who have been down into the cellar after Fritzl gave them the electronic combination -- say that the rooms are very low, less than five-and-a-half feet high.

The rooms included a sleeping quarters, a kitchen and a bathroom, all of which are said to be "very dark, narrow and damp," reports CNN correspondent Fred Pleitgen. Video Watch a report on details of the case »

Elisabeth Fritzl has told officers that conditions were "dire" and that she and her children had little food and clothing. None had seen the light of day during their entire time in captivity, she told police.

One photograph shows the white-tiled walls and floors of the bathroom and some token attempts to introduce some semblance of normality.

A small child-like cutout of a yellow snail has been stuck over the sink, while a large plastic elephant sits atop the green bathroom cabinet. Above that, as elsewhere in the bathroom, droops a small plastic plant.

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Other accoutrements of everyday life litter the scene, including a hot water bottle, a small wooden chair and a towel.

What looks like a wooden glass-framed door has been painted red; through the doorway is the bath itself, crammed in next to a toilet with a green seat.

Above the bath is what looks like a large image of a flower, aside other decorations that appear to have been put on the walls.

But the overwhelming sense from the images is one of grimness. The only evident light in this windowless room comes from the small bulb set into the bathroom cabinet; despite the whiteness of the walls, floor and bathroom fittings, it is a room that cannot hide its oppression as one of the few rooms that the three children, if reports are correct, have ever known.

Other pictures convey the grimness of the dungeon still further. A narrow corridor, just over the width of a floor tile, leads down from what seems to be a kitchen area to sleeping quarters.

A table in the foreground appear to have a cloth over it; a dressing gown hangs from the hook. But the spartan conditions and cramped conditions cannot belie the rooms' true purpose.


A third image shows a corner of the dungeon with a wooden wall and construction materials piled up in a heap. A set of tiles has been fixed to the wall in what seem to be two sides of a doorway, blocked by what looks like a white rectangular board.

Police at a press conference Monday said that this image showed the exit from the dungeon, controlled on the other side by an electronic keyless lock. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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