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ROME (Reuters) - The crew of the Costa Concordia, the huge liner which capsized off the coast of Italy in January killing as many as 32 people, won the Lloyd's List "Seafarer of the Year" award for 2012, the ship's operator Costa Cruises said on Thursday.
The citation for the award said the crew provided "true examples of courage and professionalism" during the dangerous night evacuation of the ship after it was fatally holed by a rock off the Tuscan island of Giglio.
The ship's captain Francesco Schettino has been blamed for the disaster and faces charges of multiple manslaughter, causing the accident and abandoning his ship before the evacuation was complete.
"The 'Seafarer of the Year' award recognizes the competence, heroism and professionalism displayed by the sailors every day," Costa said in a statement.
In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, some passengers reported acts of bravery and heroism by crew members during the evacuation while others complained that staff appeared ill-prepared, with many unable to speak Italian.
Experts appointed by Italian judges to help an investigation into the accident also criticized a lack of preparation among crew members.
The 114,500 tonne Costa Concordia sank off the island of Giglio on January 13 after it came within metres of the shoreline and struck a rock which cut open its hull and caused it to capsize.
Reporting By James Mackenzie, editing by Paul Casciato