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WASHINGTON–Insurers and other financial firms across the nation have been asked to gear up for a form of disaster drill assessing their ability to respond to a pandemic crisis, such as a bird flu outbreak.

The exercise sponsored by the Treasury Department is due to begin Sept. 24. According to a Web site set up for the simulation, participants in the exercise will be sent a scenario update each Monday during the exercise, and will be able to download their absentee distribution information.

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