The Dutch flag flies at half mast outside Saint Vitus church during a special mas in memory of the victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 20, 2014 in Hilversum, Netherlands.Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Sunday was declared a national day of mourning in the Netherlands for the victims of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, which crashed on Thursday when it was shot down while flying over Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.

A book of condolence was opened and large numbers of mourners waited patiently to sign at Amsterdam's Schipol airport, where flight MH17 departed on Thursday for Kuala Lumpur. A memorial service will be held for the crash victims on Monday.

Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was travelling over the conflict-hit region when it disappeared from radar. A total of 283 passengers, including 192 Dutch passengers, died in the crash – making it one of the most devastating air disasters in the country's history.

As a proportion of its 16.8 million population, more Dutch people died in the MH17 plane crash than US lives lost in the 9/11 terrorist attack.

A page on a Dutch condolence website has been inundated with more than 10,000 messages of sympathy and support for the families.

The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte expressed his "deep shock" but urged restraint, encouraging people to avoid speculation and wait for the facts. He has also promised to have the Dutch victims' bodies repatriated as swiftly as possible.

Minutes after what Rutte described as a "very intense" conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he told journalists Putin had "one last chance to show he means to help."

"He [Putin] must now take responsibility. The Netherlands and the world will see that he does what needs to be done", he added.

The Dutch senator Willem Witteveen was on board flight MH17. A leading Aids researcher from the Netherlands, Professor Joep Lange was also among the casualties. Many doctors and researchers were travelling on the flight en route to Melbourne, Australia, for the International AIDS Conference.

King Willem-Alexander shared his condolences and cancelled a planned royal family photoshoot that was scheduled to take place on Friday.