#Bringthemhome: Blackout on social media as users pay tribute to MH17 victims

Thousands of online users have taken to social media to call for the victims of the Malaysian airliner crash to be returned to loved ones.

Twitter users across the board turned their avatars black ahead of a national day of mourning in the Netherlands. Using the hashtag #bringthemhome, a blackout ensued on the site.

Some 193 Dutch people were among the 298 people on board the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 when it crashed in Ukraine on Thursday.

The trend was initially used after anger mounted that the bodies had not been repatriated on time.

A minute's silence will be held at 4pm local time, as the plane carrying the bodies of the victims is expected to land.

The Netherlands government said the silence will be held before a motorcade takes them to the Korporaal van Oudheusden barracks, where the process of identifying them will begin.

The trend appears to have stared with the Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans being among the first to change his cover image on Facebook.

In a powerful speech at the UN Security Council on Monday, Mr Timmermans joined the Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop in their demands to "bring our people home".

Since then, online users have also voiced their outrage in solidarity with those who lost their loved ones: